Energy Fluctuations Shape Free Energy of Nonspecific Biomolecular Interactions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Understanding design principles of biomolecular recognition is a key question of molecular biology. Yet the enormous complexity and diversity of biological molecules hamper the efforts to gain a predictive ability for the free energy of protein-protein, protein-DNA, and protein-RNA binding. Here, using a variant of the Derrida model, we predict that for a large class of biomolecular interactions, it is possible to accurately estimate the relative free energy of binding based on the fluctuation properties of their energy spectra, even if a finite number of the energy levels is known. We show that the free energy of the system possessing a wider binding energy spectrum is almost surely lower compared with the system possessing a narrower energy spectrum. Our predictions imply that low-affinity binding scores, usually wasted in protein-protein and protein-DNA docking algorithms, can be efficiently utilized to compute the free energy. Using the results of Rosetta docking simulations of protein-protein interactions from Andre et al. (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 16148, 2008), we demonstrate the power of our predictions.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Free energy of biomolecular interactions, Fluctuations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-877
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch