A Universal Pattern in the Percolation and Dissipation of Protein Structural Perturbations

Understanding the extent to which information is transmitted through the intramolecular interaction network of proteins upon a perturbation, that is, an allosteric effect, has long remained an unsolved problem. Through an analysis of high-resolution NMR data from the literature on 28 different proteins and 49 structural perturbations, we show that the extent of induced structural changes through mutations and molecular events including protein–protein, protein–peptide, protein–ligand binding, and post-translational modifications exhibit a near-universal exponential functional form. The extent of percolation into the protein structures can be up to 20–25 Å despite no apparent change in the 3D structures. These observations are also consistent with theoretical expectations, elementary graph theoretic analysis of protein structures, detailed molecular dynamics simulations, and experimental double-mutant cycles. Our analysis highlights that most molecular events would contribute to allosteric effects independent of protein structure, topology, or identity and provides a simple avenue to test and potentially model their effects.