Evolution of Specific Protein–Protein Interaction Sites Following Gene Duplication
Gene duplication is a common evolutionary process that leads to the expansion and functional diversification of protein subfamilies. The evolutionary events that cause paralogous proteins to bind different protein ligands (functionally diverged interfaces) are investigated and compared to paralogous proteins that bind the same protein ligand (functionally preserved interfaces). We find that functionally diverged interfaces possess more subfamily-specific residues than functionally preserved interfaces. These subfamily-specific residues are usually partially buried at the interface rim and achieve specific binding through optimized hydrogen bond geometries. In addition to optimized hydrogen bond geometries, side-chain modeling experiments suggest that steric effects are also important for binding specificity. Residues that are completely buried at the interface hub are also less conserved in functionally diverged interfaces than in functionally preserved interfaces. Consistent with this finding, hub residues contribute less to free energy of binding in functionally diverged interfaces than in functionally preserved interfaces. Therefore, we propose that protein binding is a delicate balance between binding affinity that primarily occurs at the interface hub and binding specificity that primarily occurs at the interface rim. âº Functionally diverged interfaces posses unique evolutionary patterns. âº Subfamily-specific residues are typically located at the rim of the interface. âº Subfamily-specific residues have optimized hydrogen bonds. âº Binding energies are reduced at the hub of functionally diverged interfaces.