An Ensemble View of Allostery

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Science  05 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5966, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186121

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Allostery is the process by which biological macromolecules (mostly proteins) transmit the regulatory effects induced by the binding of a ligand at one site to a different, often distant, functional site. This process governs the function of almost all metabolism and gene regulation (1, 2). Despite the importance of this process, a general understanding of the structural and energetic basis for allostery has been elusive. On page 685 of this issue, Bai et al. (3) shed light on a key obstacle to understanding allosteric control by showing how proteins existing as ensembles of multiple conformations affect the allosteric signal transduction process.