Communication within and across proteins is crucial for the biological functioning of proteins. Experiments such as mutational studies on proteins provide important information on the amino acids, which are crucial for their function. However, the protein structures are complex and it is unlikely that the entire responsibility of the function rests on only a few amino acids. A large fraction of the protein is expected to participate in its function at some level or other. Thus, it is relevant to consider the protein structures as a completely connected network and then deduce the properties, which are related to the global network features. In this direction, our laboratory has been engaged in representing the protein structure as a network of non-covalent connections and we have investigated a variety of problems in structural biology, such as the identification of functional and folding clusters, determinants of quaternary association and characterization of the network properties of protein structures. We have also addressed a few important issues related to protein dynamics, such as the process of oligomerization in multimers, mechanism of protein folding, and ligand induced communications (allosteric effect). In this review we highlight some of the investigations which we have carried out in the recent past. A review on protein structure graphs was presented earlier, in which the focus was on the graphs and graph spectral properties and their implementation in the study of protein structure graphs/networks (PSN). In this article, we briefly summarize the relevant parts of the methodology and the focus is on the advancement brought out in the understanding of protein structure-function relationships through structure networks. The investigations of structural/biological problems are divided into two parts, in which the first part deals with the analysis of PSNs based on static structures obtained from x-ray crystallography. The second part highlights the changes in the network, associated with biological functions, which are deduced from the network analysis on the structures obtained from molecular dynamics simulations.
Keywords: Protein structure graphs, graph spectra, clusters, hubs and degree distribution, non-covalent interactions, proteinprotein interaction, protein stability, dynamics of structure network, communication paths, allosteric effect