Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Program

First Thesis Advisor

Francesca Massi, Ph.D.


Ligands, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular, Molecular Conformation, Protein Binding, Allosteric Regulation


Molecular recognition, defined as the specific interactions between two or more molecules, is at the center of many biological processes including catalysis, signal transduction, gene regulation and allostery. Allosteric regulation is the modification of function caused by an intermolecular interaction. Allosteric proteins modify their activity in response to a biological signal that is often transmitted through the interaction with a small effector molecule. Therefore, determination of the origins of intermolecular interactions involved in molecular recognition and allostery are essential for understanding biological processes. Classically, molecular recognition and allosteric regulation have been associated to structural changes of the system. NMR spectroscopic methods have indicated that changes in protein dynamics may also contribute to molecular recognition and allostery. This thesis is an investigation of the contributions of both structure and dynamics in molecular binding phenomena.

In chapter I, I describe molecular recognition, allostery and examples of allostery and cooperativity. Then I discuss the contribution of protein dynamics to function with a special focus on allosteric regulation. Lastly I introduce the hemoglobin homodimer, HbI of Scapharca inaequivalvis and the mRNA binding protein TIS11d.

Chapter II is the primary focus of this thesis on the contribution of protein dynamics to allostery in the dimeric hemoglobin of scapharca inaequivalvis, HbI. Thereafter I concentrate on the mechanism of adenine recognition of the Tristetraprolin-like (TTP) protein TIS11d; this study is detailed in Chapter III. In Chapter IV I discuss broader impacts and future directions of my research.

This thesis presents an example of the use of protein NMR spectroscopy to probe ligand binding. The studies presented in this thesis emphasize the importance of dynamics in understanding protein function. Measurements of protein motions will be an element of future studies to understand protein function in health and disease.



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