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2003 | 50 | 2 | 297-318
Article title

Thermodynamics of specific protein-RNA interactions.

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Description of the recognition specificity between proteins and nucleic acids at the level of molecular interactions is one of the most challenging tasks in biophysics. It is key to understanding the course and control of gene expression and to the application of the thus acquired knowledge in chemotherapy. This review presents experimental results of thermodynamic studies and a discussion of the role of thermodynamics in formation and stability of functional protein-RNA complexes, with a special attention to the interactions involving mRNA 5' cap and cap-binding proteins in the initiation of protein biosynthesis in the eukaryotic cell. A theoretical framework for analysis of the thermodynamic parameters of protein-nucleic acid association is also briefly surveyed. Overshadowed by more spectacular achievements in structural studies, the thermodynamic investigations are of equal importance for full comprehension of biopolymers' activity in a quantitative way. In this regard, thermodynamics gives a direct insight into the energetic and entropic characteristics of complex macromolecular systems in their natural environment, aqueous solution, and thus complements the structural view derived from X-ray crystallography and multidimensional NMR. Further development of the thermodynamic approach toward interpretation of recognition and binding specificity in terms of molecular biophysics requires more profound contribution from statistical mechanics.

Physical description
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