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The amount of transmembrane protein (TM) structures solved to date is now large enough to attempt large scale analyses. In particular, extensive studies of oligomeric interfaces in the transmembrane region are now possible. We have compiled the first fully comprehensive set of validated transmembrane protein interfaces in order to study their features and assess what differentiates them from their soluble counterparts. The general features of TM interfaces do not differ much from those of soluble proteins: they are large, tightly packed and possess many interface core residues. In our set, membrane lipids were not found to significantly mediate protein-protein interfaces. Although no G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) was included in the validated set, we analyzed the crystallographic dimerization interfaces proposed in the literature. We found that the putative dimer interfaces proposed for class A GPCRs do not show the usual patterns of stable biological interfaces, neither in terms of evolution nor of packing, thus they likely correspond to crystal interfaces. We cannot however rule out the possibility that they constitute transient or weak interfaces. In contrast we do observe a clear signature of biological interface for the proposed dimer of the class F human Smoothened receptor.


Jose M Duarte, Nikhil Biyani, Kumaran Baskaran, Guido Capitani. An analysis of oligomerization interfaces in transmembrane proteins. BMC structural biology. 2013 Oct 17;13:21

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PMID: 24134166

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