Intramolecular signaling pathways revealed by modeling anisotropic thermal diffusion.
A variety of experimental evidence suggests that rapid, long-range propagation of conformational changes through the core of proteins plays a vital role in allosteric communication. Here, we describe a non-equilibrium molecular dynamics simulation method, anisotropic thermal diffusion (ATD), which allowed us to observe a dominant intramolecular signaling pathway in PSD-95, a member of the PDZ domain protein family. The observed pathway is in good accordance with a pathway previously inferred using a multiple sequence analysis of 276 PDZ domain proteins. In comparison with conventional solution molecular dynamics methods, the ATD method provides greatly enhanced signal-to-noise, allowing long-distance correlations to be observed clearly. The ATD method requires neither a large number of homologous proteins, nor extremely long simulation times to obtain a complete signaling pathway within a protein. Therefore, the ATD method should prove to be a powerful and general complement to experimental efforts to understand the physical basis of intramolecular signaling.