Conformational proofreading: a possible mechanism for the enhancement of molecular recognition

27 Mar 2009

Tsvi Tlusty
Weizmann Institute of Science


We will discuss the problem of molecular recognition during the process of homologous recombination. A general question to be examined in this context is the effect of conformational changes on the quality of molecular recognition.

Recombination requires detecting homologous DNAs within a huge variety of heterologous sequences. During the detection process the participating DNAs are extended by 50-60%. What is the role of this stretch, which involves a considerable amount of energy?

Looking at the DNA recognition process in terms of a signal detection problem, it appears that the observed DNA extension maximizes the ability to detect homologous sequences. This suggests a generic design principle for molecular recognition systems, termed conformational proofreading, in which the expenditure of energy to induce conformational changes enhances the quality of detection.

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