Until recently, the occurrence of conformational entropy in protein crystal contacts was considered to be a very unlikely event. A study based on the most accurately refined protein structures demonstrated that side-chain conformational entropy and static disorder might be common in protein crystal lattices. The present investigation uses structures refined using ensemble refinement to show that although paradoxical, conformational entropy is likely to be the major factor in the emergence and integrity of the protein condensed phase. This study reveals that the role of shape entropy and local entropic forces expands beyond the onset of crystallization. For the first time, the complete pattern of intermolecular interactions by protein atoms in crystal lattices is presented, which shows that van der Waals interactions dominate in crystal formation.
Dimova, M., & Devedjiev, Y. D. (2018). Protein crystal lattices are dynamic assemblies: the role of conformational entropy in the protein condensed phase. IUCrJ, 5(2), 130–140. https://doi.org/10.1107/s2052252517017833