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Hydropathic Self-Organized Criticality: A Magic Wand for Protein Physics

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Self-organized criticality (SOC) is a popular concept that has been the subject of more than 3000 articles in the last 25 years. The characteristic signature of SOC is the appearance of self-similarity (power-law scaling) in observable properties. A characteristic observable protein property that describes protein-water interactions is the water-accessible (hydropathic) interfacial area of compacted globular protein networks. Here we show that hydropathic power-law (size- or length-scale-dependent) exponents derived from SOC enable theory to connect standard Web-based (BLAST) short-range amino acid (aa) sequence similarities to long-range aa sequence hydropathic roughening form factors that hierarchically describe evolutionary trends in water - membrane protein interactions. Our method utilizes hydropathic aa exponents that define a non-Euclidean metric realistically rooted in the atomic coordinates of 5526 protein segments. These hydropathic aa exponents thereby encapsulate universal (but previously only implicit) non-Euclidean long-range differential geometrical features of the Protein Data Bank. These hydropathic aa exponents easily organize small mutated aa sequence differences between human and proximate species proteins. For rhodopsin, the most studied transmembrane signaling protein associated with night vision, analysis shows that this approach separates Euclidean short- and non-Euclidean long-range aa sequence properties, and shows that they correlate with 96% success for humans, monkeys, cats, mice and rabbits. Proper application of SOC using hydropathic aa exponents promises unprecedented simplifications of exponentially complex protein sequence-structure-function problems, both conceptual and practical.
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Keywords: Self-organized criticality (SOC); Sequence-structure correlations; compacted globular protein networks; interspecies; long-range water; rhodopsin; short-range packing; signaling protein

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2012

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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