Sliding Mechanism at a Coiled-Coil Interface

David Gomez, Yulian Gavrilov, Yaakov Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The α-helical coiled coil (CC) is a common protein motif that because of the simplicity of its sequence/structure relationship, it has been studied extensively to address fundamental questions in protein science as well as to develop strategies for designing protein with novel architectures. Nevertheless, a complete understanding of CC structures and their dynamics is still far from achieved. Particularly, spontaneous sliding at interfaces of CC proteins was observed for some systems, but its mechanism and usage as an intrinsic conformational change at CCs in protein-protein interfaces is unclear. Using coarse-grained and atomistic simulations, we study various sequences of homodimeric CC, in both parallel and antiparallel configurations. Both the strength of the hydrophobic core and the existence of salt bridges at the periphery of the interface affect sliding dynamics at the CC interface. Although the energy landscape for sliding along a CC interface is different for parallel and antiparallel configurations, both are characterized by a free energy of 1–1.5 kcal/mol, depending on the residues that constitute the CC interface. These barrier heights suggest that sliding kinetics is relatively slow in CC systems and are not expected to be of long length scale, yet they can be involved in functional motions. Our study explains the sliding that has been experimentally observed for the antiparallel CC of the dynein stalk region and the nuclear pore complex and suggests that this one-dimensional motion is an intrinsic feature in CC systems that can be involved in other CC systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1228-1238
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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