Protein quaternary structure

Protein quaternary structure, Number and arrangement of multiple folded protein subunits in a multi-subunit complex.

Protein quaternary structure image

Number and arrangement of multiple folded protein subunits in a multi-subunit complex

Interactive diagram of protein structure, using PCNA as an example. (PDB: 1AXC​)

Protein quaternary structure is the number and arrangement of multiple folded protein subunits in a multi-subunit complex. It includes organizations from simple dimers to large homooligomers and complexes with defined or variable numbers of subunits. It can also refer to biomolecular complexes of proteins with nucleic acids and other cofactors.

Contents

Description and examples

Many proteins are actually assemblies of multiple polypeptide chains. The quaternary structure refers to the number and arrangement of the protein subunits with respect to one another. Examples of proteins with quaternary structure include hemoglobin, DNA polymerase, and ion channels.

Enzymes composed of subunits with diverse functions are sometimes called holoenzymes, in which some parts may be known as regulatory subunits and the functional core is known as the catalytic subunit. Other assemblies referred to instead as multiprotein complexes also possess quaternary structure. Examples include nucleosomes and microtubules. Changes in quaternary structure can occur through conformational changes within individual subunits or through reorientation of the subunits relative to each other. It is through such changes, which underlie ...read more

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