What your example is referring to is the change in the glutamic acid (E) amino acid (AA) residue, which is in position 36. This is denoted so that people/scientist would know what has been changed and usually there should be another letter after that number such as Y, which is tyrosine, to denote what it has been changed to, if it is a substitution. Then there is the delta (∆) symbol to denote deletion, and usually a number range e.g. 36-50 or just a number e.g. 70 appears after it to denote if a protein has been truncated in a certain AA range or if the entire protein from that AA is truncated, respectively. Sometimes (quite often now a days) the delta symbol is followed a protein domain name such as SH3 or RA to denote that a protein domain has been deleted and people use all sorts of naming variations for a protein that has been altered from its native sequence, which can be confusing!!
These are just some conventions, which isn't documented very well and you just figure them out when reading a few papers but I would welcome any edits for a good source for protein change annotations.
Since as pointed by Alan Boyd response, MalE is an E. coli gene encoding Maltose Binding Proteins, then my answer will not apply for any protein AA changes as correctly pointed out and elaborated on in Alan Boyd response.