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Allosteric regulation is a common mechanism employed by complex biomolecular systems for regulation of activity and adaptability in the cellular environment, serving as an effective molecular tool for cellular communication. As an intrinsic but elusive property, allostery is a ubiquitous phenomenon where binding or disturbing of a distal site in a protein can functionally control its activity and is considered as the “second secret of life.” The fundamental biological importance and complexity of these processes require a multi-faceted platform of synergistically integrated approaches for prediction and characterization of allosteric functional states, atomistic reconstruction of allosteric regulatory mechanisms and discovery of allosteric modulators. The unifying theme and overarching goal of allosteric regulation studies in recent years have been integration between emerging experiment and computational approaches and technologies to advance quantitative characterization of allosteric mechanisms in proteins. Despite significant advances, the quantitative characterization and reliable prediction of functional allosteric states, interactions, and mechanisms continue to present highly challenging problems in the field. In this review, we discuss simulation-based multiscale approaches, experiment-informed Markovian models, and network modeling of allostery and information-theoretical approaches that can describe the thermodynamics and hierarchy allosteric states and the molecular basis of allosteric mechanisms. The wealth of structural and functional information along with diversity and complexity of allosteric mechanisms in therapeutically important protein families have provided a well-suited platform for development of data-driven research strategies. Data-centric integration of chemistry, biology and computer science using artificial intelligence technologies has gained a significant momentum and at the forefront of many cross-disciplinary efforts. We discuss new developments in the machine learning field and the emergence of deep learning and deep reinforcement learning applications in modeling of molecular mechanisms and allosteric proteins. The experiment-guided integrated approaches empowered by recent advances in multiscale modeling, network science, and machine learning can lead to more reliable prediction of allosteric regulatory mechanisms and discovery of allosteric modulators for therapeutically important protein targets.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, volume 7, in 2020.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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