Apoptosis is a matter of life and death for cells and both inhibited and enhanced apoptosis may be involved in the pathogenesis of human diseases. The structures of protein-protein complexes in the apoptosis signaling pathway are important as the structural pathway helps in understanding the mechanism of the regulation and information transfer, and in identifying targets for drug design. Here, we aim to predict the structures toward a more informative pathway than currently available. Based on the 3D structures of complexes in the target pathway and a protein-protein interaction modeling tool which allows accurate and proteome-scale applications, we modeled the structures of 29 interactions, 21 of which were previously unknown. Next, 27 interactions which were not listed in the KEGG apoptosis pathway were predicted and subsequently validated by the experimental data in the literature. Additional interactions are also predicted. The multi-partner hub proteins are analyzed and interactions that can and cannot co-exist are identified. Overall, our results enrich the understanding of the pathway with interactions and provide structural details for the human apoptosis pathway. They also illustrate that computational modeling of protein-protein interactions on a large scale can help validate experimental data and provide accurate, structural atom-level detail of signaling pathways in the human cell.
apoptosis; protein-protein interaction; protein-protein complex; signaling network; PRISM; 3D structure
More than two dozen clinical syndromes known as amyloid diseases are characterized by the buildup of extended insoluble fibrillar deposits in tissues. These amorphous Congo red staining deposits known as amyloids exhibit a characteristic green birefringence and cross-β structure. Substantial evidence implicates oligomeric intermediates of amyloids as toxic species in the pathogenesis of these chronic disease states. A growing body of data has suggested that these toxic species form ion channels in cellular membranes causing disruption of calcium homeostasis, membrane depolarization, energy drainage, and in some cases apoptosis. Amyloid peptide channels exhibit a number of common biological properties including the universal U-shape β-strand-turn-β-strand structure, irreversible and spontaneous insertion into membranes, production of large heterogeneous single-channel conductances, relatively poor ion selectivity, inhibition by Congo red, and channel blockade by zinc. Recent evidence has suggested that increased amounts of amyloids are not only toxic to its host target cells but also possess antimicrobial activity. Furthermore, at least one human antimicrobial peptide, protegrin-1, which kills microbes by a channel-forming mechanism, has been shown to possess the ability to form extended amyloid fibrils very similar to those of classic disease-forming amyloids. In this paper, we will review the reported antimicrobial properties of amyloids and the implications of these discoveries for our understanding of amyloid structure and function.
Amyloid ion channels; β-strand-turn-β-strand motif; cytotoxicity; antimicrobial activity
Ubiquitination is crucial for many cellular processes such as protein degradation, DNA repair, transcription regulation and cell signaling. Ubiquitin attachment takes place via a sequential enzymatic cascade involving ubiquitin-activation (by E1 enzymes), ubiquitin-conjugation (by E2 enzymes), and ubiquitin substrate-tagging (by E3 enzymes). E3 ligases mediate ubiquitin transfer from E2s to substrates and as such confer substrate specificity. Although E3s can interact and function with numerous E2s, it is still unclear how they choose which E2 to use. Identifying all E2 partners of an E3 is essential for inferring the principles guiding E2 selection by an E3. Here we model the interactions of E3 and E2 proteins in a large, proteome-scale strategy based on interface structural motifs, which allows elucidation of 1) which E3s interact with which E2s in the human ubiquitination pathway; and 2) how they interact with each other. Interface analysis of E2-E3 complexes reveals that loop L1 of E2s is critical for binding; the residue in the sixth position in loop L1 is widely utilized as an interface hot spot and appears indispensible for E2 interactions. Other loop L1 residues also confer specificity on the E2-E3 interactions: HECT E3s are in contact with the residue in the second position in loop L1 of E2s; but this is not the case for the RING finger type E3s. Our modeled E2-E3 complexes illuminate how slight sequence variations in E2 residues may contribute to specificity in E3 binding. These findings may be important for discovering drug candidates targeting E3s, which have been implicated in many diseases.
ubiquitination; E2; E3; proteomics; protein-protein interactions; protein-protein interfaces; degradation; proteome-scale structural maps
Nature has shaped the make up of proteins since their appearance, 3.8 billion years ago. However, the fundamental drivers of structural change responsible for the extraordinary diversity of proteins have yet to be elucidated. Here we explore if protein evolution affects folding speed. We estimated folding times for the present-day catalog of protein domains directly from their size-modified contact order. These values were mapped onto an evolutionary timeline of domain appearance derived from a phylogenomic analysis of protein domains in 989 fully-sequenced genomes. Our results show a clear overall increase of folding speed during evolution, with known ultra-fast downhill folders appearing rather late in the timeline. Remarkably, folding optimization depends on secondary structure. While alpha-folds showed a tendency to fold faster throughout evolution, beta-folds exhibited a trend of folding time increase during the last 1.5 billion years that began during the “big bang” of domain combinations. As a consequence, these domain structures are on average slow folders today. Our results suggest that fast and efficient folding of domains shaped the universe of protein structure. This finding supports the hypothesis that optimization of the kinetic and thermodynamic accessibility of the native fold reduces protein aggregation propensities that hamper cellular functions.
Nature has come up with an enormous variety of protein three-dimensional structures, each of which is thought to be optimized for its specific function. A fundamental biological endeavor is to uncover the driving evolutionary forces for discovering and optimizing new folds. A long-standing hypothesis is that fold evolution obeys constraints to properly fold into native structure. We here test this hypothesis by analyzing trends of proteins to fold fast during evolution. Using phylogenomic and structural analyses, we observe an overall decrease in folding times between 3.8 and 1.5 billion years ago, which can be interpreted as an evolutionary optimization for rapid folding. This trend towards fast folding probably resulted in manifold advantages, including high protein accessibility for the cell and a reduction of protein aggregation during misfolding.
We present a novel generic computational method to assess protein nanotubes with variable diameter sizes, at the atomic level, given their low resolution protomeric structures. The method is based on the symmetrical assembly of a repeating protein subunit into a nanotube. Given the protein unit-cell, and the tube diameter and helicity, we carry out all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, combined with a unique mathematical transformation. This allows us to mimic nanotubes of even huge sizes, without end or edge effects. All our simulation setups attempt to explicitly adhere to the conditions under which the experiments were conducted. Thus, we are able to obtain high resolution atomic-scale structures at reasonable computational costs. We expect that our approach would prove useful in assessing protein nanotubes, as well as in silico constructions of novel nano-biomaterials.
Photopolymerizable phospholipid DC8,9PC (1,2-bis-(tricosa-10,12-diynoyl)-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) exhibits unique assembly characteristics in the lipid bilayer. Due to the presence of the diacetylene groups, DC8,9PC undergoes polymerization upon UV (254 nm) exposure and assumes chromogenic properties. DC8,9PC photopolymerization in a gel phase matrix lipid 1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DPPC) monitored by UV-VIS absorption spectroscopy occurred within 2 minutes after UV treatment, whereas no spectral shifts were observed when DC8,9PC was incorporated in a liquid phase matrix 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC). Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis showed a decrease in DC8,9PC monomer in both DPPC and POPC environments without any change in matrix lipids in UV-treated samples. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations of DPPC/DC8,9PC and POPC/DC8,9PC bilayers indicate that the DC8,9PC molecules adjust to the thickness of the matrix lipid bilayer. Furthermore, motions of DC8,9PC in the gel phase bilayer are more restricted than in the fluid bilayer. The restricted motional flexibility of DC8,9PC (in the gel phase) enables the reactive diacetylenes in individual molecules to align and undergo polymerization, whereas the unrestricted motions in the fluid bilayer restrict polymerization due to the lack of appropriate alignment of the DC8,9PC fatty acyl chains. Fluorescence microscopy data indicates homogenous distribution of the lipid probe 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-lissamine rhodamine B sulfonyl ammonium salt (N-Rh-PE) in POPC/DC8,9PC monolayers, but domain formation in DPPC/DC8,9PC monolayers. These results show that the DC8,9PC molecules cluster and assume the preferred conformation in the gel phase matrix for UV-triggered polymerization reaction.
polymerizable lipids; lipid packing; triggered drug release; diacetylene phospholipids; light-sensitive liposomes; lipid modification; phase separation
Protein kinases use ATP as a phosphoryl donor for the posttranslational modification of signaling targets. It is generally thought that the binding of this nucleotide induces conformational changes leading to closed, more compact forms of the kinase domain that ideally orient active-site residues for efficient catalysis. The kinase domain is oftentimes flanked by additional ligand binding domains that up- or down-regulate catalytic function. C-terminal Src kinase (Csk) is a multidomain tyrosine kinase that is up-regulated by N-terminal SH2 and SH3 domains. Although the X-ray structure of Csk suggests the enzyme is compact, X-ray scattering studies indicate that the enzyme possesses both compact and open conformational forms in solution. Here, we investigated whether interactions with the ATP analog AMP-PNP and ADP can shift the conformational ensemble of Csk in solution using a combination of small angle x-ray scattering and molecular dynamics simulations. We find that binding of AMP-PNP shifts the ensemble towards more extended rather than more compact conformations. Binding of ADP further shifts the ensemble towards extended conformations, including highly extended conformations not adopted by the apo protein, nor by the AMP-PNP bound protein. These ensembles indicate that any compaction of the kinase domain induced by nucleotide binding does not extend to the overall multi-domain architecture. Instead, assembly of an ATP-bound kinase domain generates further extended forms of Csk that may have relevance for kinase scaffolding and Src regulation in the cell.
The Src protein kinases are integral members of numerous signaling pathways involved in cellular growth and differentiation. The master regulator of the Src family is the protein kinase Csk, which adds a phosphate to the C-terminal tail, inhibiting Src Kinase function. Proper regulation of these signaling pathways by Csk is essential as unregulated activity in these pathways is correlated with the development of various cancers and autoimmune diseases. Understanding the nature of the mechanism and structure of Csk may lead to therapeutics and a better understanding of Src signaling pathways. Conformational changes associated with nucleotide binding and release have been shown to regulate the efficiency of Src down-regulation by Csk. To obtain insights into the nature of these nucleotide-induced structural changes, we examined the conformation of Csk in solution while bound to the ATP analog AMP-PNP and product ADP using a combination of small angle x-ray scattering and molecular dynamics. Surprisingly, both nucleotides induce extended conformations of Csk compared to the apo-enzyme, suggesting a novel mode of function. Further understanding of this mode of function may aid in the design of cancer therapeutics that act by regulating Src signaling pathways by modulating the function of Csk.
Symmetric protein complexes are abundant in the living cell. Predicting their atomic structure can shed light on the mechanism of many important biological processes. Symmetric docking methods aim to predict the structure of these complexes given the unbound structure of a single monomer, or its model. Symmetry constraints reduce the search-space of these methods and make the prediction easier compared to asymmetric protein-protein docking. However the challenge of modeling the conformational changes that the monomer might undergo is a major obstacle. In this paper we present SymmRef, a novel method for refinement and re-ranking of symmetric docking solutions. The method models backbone and side-chain movements and optimizes the rigid-body orientations of the monomers. The backbone movements are modeled by normal modes minimization and the conformations of the side-chains are modeled by selecting optimal rotamers. Since solved structures of symmetric multimers show asymmetric side-chain conformations, we do not use symmetry constraints in the side-chain optimization procedure. The refined models are re-ranked according to an energy score. We tested the method on a benchmark of unbound docking challenges. The results show that the method significantly improves the accuracy and the ranking of symmetric rigid docking solutions. SymmRef is available for download at http://bioinfo3d.cs.tau.ac.il/SymmRef/download.html.
protein docking; symmetric complexes; docking refinement; side-chain optimization; backbone refinement; symmetric refinement
A fundamental goal in cellular signaling is to understand allosteric communication, the process by which signals originated at one site in a protein propagate dependably to affect remote functional sites. Here, we describe the allosteric regulation of the receptor tyrosine kinase KIT. Our analysis evidenced that communication routes established between the activation loop (A-loop) and the distant juxtamembrane region (JMR) in the native protein were disrupted by the oncogenic mutation D816V positioned in the A-loop. In silico mutagenesis provided a plausible way of restoring the protein communication detected in the native KIT by introducing a counter-balancing second mutation D792E. The communication patterns observed in the native and mutated KIT correlate perfectly with the structural and dynamical features of these proteins. Particularly, a long-distance effect of the D816V mutation manifested as an important structural re-organization of the JMR in the oncogenic mutant was completely vanished in the double mutant D816V/D792E. This detailed characterization of the allosteric communication in the different forms of KIT, native and mutants, was performed by using a modular network representation composed of communication pathways and independent dynamic segments. Such representation permits to enrich a purely mechanistic interaction-based model of protein communication by the introduction of concerted local atomic fluctuations. This method, validated on KIT receptor, may guide a rational modulation of the physiopathological activities of other receptor tyrosine kinases.
The majority of functionally important biological processes are regulated by allosteric communication within individual proteins and across protein complexes. Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) control signal transduction pathways and consequently represent a typical paradigm. The mutation-induced deregulation of RTK activity impairs crucial cellular physiological functions and causes serious human diseases. The present study focuses on the allosteric communication across the three-dimensional structure of the RTK KIT cytoplasmic region. Combining a mechanistic model of information transmission with the analysis of concerted local atomic fluctuations we examined and compared the communication profiles in the native and D816V-mutated proteins. This approach permitted to localize and visualize communication routes in the native KIT and revealed that these routes were disrupted in the mutant D816V. We proposed in silico mutagenesis as a mean to restore the communication detected in the native KIT. Our work sheds light on the allosteric communication in RTKs, a phenomenon playing an essential role in signaling pathways albeit experiments do not provide the atomic details of the path followed in going from one structural element to the other. A rational understanding of the molecular determinants underlying the effects of disease-related kinase mutations may contribute to the improvement of targeted therapies.
The intricate molecular details of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are crucial for function. Therefore, measuring the same interacting protein pair again, we expect the same result. This work measured the similarity in the molecular details of interaction for the same and for homologous protein pairs between different experiments. All scores analyzed suggested that different experiments often find exceptions in the interfaces of similar PPIs: up to 22% of all comparisons revealed some differences even for sequence-identical pairs of proteins. The corresponding number for pairs of close homologs reached 68%. Conversely, the interfaces differed entirely for 12–29% of all comparisons. All these estimates were calculated after redundancy reduction. The magnitude of interface differences ranged from subtle to the extreme, as illustrated by a few examples. An extreme case was a change of the interacting domains between two observations of the same biological interaction. One reason for different interfaces was the number of copies of an interaction in the same complex: the probability of observing alternative binding modes increases with the number of copies. Even after removing the special cases with alternative hetero-interfaces to the same homomer, a substantial variability remained. Our results strongly support the surprising notion that there are many alternative solutions to make the intricate molecular details of PPIs crucial for function.
The number of known protein-protein interactions (PPIs) grows rapidly, yet their molecular details remain largely unknown. Over the last years, structural biologists have addressed this issue with an increased output of structurally resolved hetero complexes. This wealth now enables statistically significant quantitative statements about interface properties. Here, we addressed the question how interfaces differ when observing the same proteinprotein interaction twice. A new dataset derived from the entire PDB was analyzed employing different definitions for the “same interaction” and a range of interface similarity measures. The hypothesis was that the interface between the same pair of proteins stays the same irrespectively of how often it is measured. Although the results mostly confirm this hypothesis, the surprising finding was how often it was not true: for many comparisons of interfaces, the molecular details of the interaction differed importantly, often without the slightest change of amino acids. In addition, no matter how much “special cases” were sieved out, the essential message remained: interfaces appear immensely plastic. Hand-selected sample structures largely support this view. In general, we complement a series of recent studies focusing either on family-family interactions or exploring other aspects of protein-protein complexes.
Conformational selection is a primary mechanism in biomolecular recognition. The conformational ensemble may determine the ability of a drug to compete with a native ligand for a receptor target. Traditional docking procedures which use one or few protein structures are limited and may not be able to represent a complex competition among closely related protein receptors in agonist and antagonist ensembles. Here, we test a protocol aimed at selecting a drug candidate based on its ability to synergistically bind to distinct conformational states. We demonstrate, for the case of estrogen receptor α (ERα) and estrogen receptor β (ERβ), that the functional outcome of ligand binding can be inferred from its ability to simultaneously bind both ERα and ERβ in agonist and antagonist conformations as calculated docking scores. Combining a conformational selection method with an experimental reporter gene system in yeast, we propose that several phytoestrogens can be novel estrogen receptor β selective agonists. Our work proposes a computational protocol to select estrogen receptor subtype selective agonists. Compared with other models, present method gives the best prediction in ligands’ function.
conformational ensemble; conformational selection; docking; phytoestrogen; SERMs; two-state theory
Recently, we reported a database (NCAD, Non-Coded Amino acids Database; http://recerca.upc.edu/imem/index.htm) that was built to compile information about the intrinsic conformational preferences of non-proteinogenic residues determined by quantum mechanical calculations, as well as bibliographic information about their synthesis, physical and spectroscopic characterization, the experimentally-established conformational propensities, and applications (J. Phys. Chem. B 2010, 114, 7413). The database initially contained the information available for α-tetrasubstituted α-amino acids. In this work, we extend NCAD to three families of compounds, which can be used to engineer peptides and proteins incorporating modifications at the –NHCO– peptide bond. Such families are: N-substituted α-amino acids, thio-α-amino acids, and diamines and diacids used to build retropeptides. The conformational preferences of these compounds have been analyzed and described based on the information captured in the database. In addition, we provide an example of the utility of the database and of the compounds it compiles in protein and peptide engineering. Specifically, the symmetry of a sequence engineered to stabilize the 310-helix with respect to the α-helix has been broken without perturbing significantly the secondary structure through targeted replacements using the information contained in the database.
The pathways by which proteins fold into their specific native structure is still an unsolved mystery. Currently many methods for protein structure prediction are available, most of them tackle the problem by relying on the vast amounts of data collected from known protein structures. These methods are often not concerned with the route the protein follows to reach its final fold.
This work is based on the premise that proteins fold in a hierarchical manner. We present FOBIA, an automated method for predicting a protein structure. FOBIA consists of two main stages: the first finds matches between parts of the target sequence and independently-folding structural units using profile-profile comparison. The second assembles these units into a 3D structure by searching and ranking their possible orientations towards each other using a docking-based approach. We have previously reported an application of an initial version of this strategy to homology based targets. Since then we have considerably enhanced our method’s abilities to allow it to address the more difficult template-based target category. This allows us to now apply FOBIA to the Template-Based targets of CASP8 and to show that it is both very efficient and promising.
Our method can provide an alternative for Template-Based structure prediction, and in particular, the docking-based ranking technique presented here can be incorporated into any profile-profile comparison based method.
During evolution, organisms have gained functional complexity mainly by modifying and improving existing functioning systems rather than creating new ones ab initio. Here we explore the interplay between two processes which during evolution have had major roles in acquisition of new functions: gene duplication and protein domain rearrangements. We consider four possible evolutionary scenarios: gene families that have undergone none of these event types; only gene duplication; only domain rearrangement; or both events. We characterize each of the four evolutionary scenarios by functional attributes. Our analysis of ten fungal genomes indicates that at least for the fungi clade, species significantly appear to gain complexity by gene duplication accompanied by expansion of existing domain architectures via rearrangements. We show that paralogs gaining new domain architectures via duplication tend to adopt new functions compared to paralogs that preserve their domain architectures. We conclude that evolution of protein families through gene duplication and domain rearrangement is correlated with their functional properties. We suggest that in general, new functions are acquired via the integration of gene duplication and domain rearrangements rather than each process acting independently.
A protein at equilibrium is commonly thought of as a fully relaxed structure, with the intra-molecular interactions showing fluctuations around their energy minimum. In contrast, here we find direct evidence for a protein as a molecular tensegrity structure, comprising a balance of tensed and compressed interactions, a concept that has been put forward for macroscopic structures. We quantified the distribution of inter-residue prestress in ubiquitin and immunoglobulin from all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. The network of highly fluctuating yet significant inter-residue forces in proteins is a consequence of the intrinsic frustration of a protein when sampling its rugged energy landscape. In beta sheets, this balance of forces is found to compress the intra-strand hydrogen bonds. We estimate that the observed magnitude of this pre-compression is enough to induce significant changes in the hydrogen bond lifetimes; thus, prestress, which can be as high as a few 100 pN, can be considered a key factor in determining the unfolding kinetics and pathway of proteins under force. Strong pre-tension in certain salt bridges on the other hand is connected to the thermodynamic stability of ubiquitin. Effective force profiles between some side-chains reveal the signature of multiple, distinct conformational states, and such static disorder could be one factor explaining the growing body of experiments revealing non-exponential unfolding kinetics of proteins. The design of prestress distributions in engineering proteins promises to be a new tool for tailoring the mechanical properties of made-to-order nanomaterials.
A tensegrity structure is one composed of members that are permanently under either tension or compression, and the balance of these tensile and compressive forces provides the structure with its mechanical stability. Macroscale tensegrity structures, which include Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, achieve exceptional structural integrity with a minimal use of resources. The question we address in this work is whether nature makes use of molecular-scale tensegrity in the design of proteins. Using Molecular Dynamics simulations of the protein ubiquitin, we measure the network of pairwise forces connecting the amino acid residues and show that this network does indeed have the character of a tensegrity structure. Furthermore, we find that the arrangement of tensile and compressive forces is such that hydrogen bonds in the protein's beta sheet, which are crucial for bearing mechanical loads, are compressed. This pre-compression is enough to significantly lengthen the lifetime of a bond under a given force, and thus should be an important factor in determining the protein's mechanical strength. The rational design of molecular prestress networks promises to be a new avenue for the engineering of proteins with made-to-order mechanical properties, for applications in medicine, materials and nanotechnology.
Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides are thought to be involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Down's syndrome. They form a large number of polymorphic structures, including heterogeneous ionic pores in membranes as well as different types of fibrillar and globular structures on surfaces and in solution. Understanding the origin of these structures and the factors that influence their occurrence is of great biomedical interest because of the possible relationship between structure and pathogenicity. Here, we use atomic force microscopy (AFM) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to demonstrate that at room temperature a truncated Aβ peptide which is generated in vivo and shown to be toxic in vitro forms fibrillar structures on hydrophobic graphite surfaces, but not on hydrophilic mica or lipid bilayers. Our results suggest that the toxic pores and fibrillar polymorphic organizations can be explained in terms of the U-shaped β-strand-turn-β-strand structural motif observed for full length Aβ and other amyloids, as well as the physicochemical properties at the interfaces. The interactions of the hydrophobic, truncated Aβ with its environment illustrate that the universal amyloid motif can provide a link between the pore and fibrillar structures and indicate that surfaces with different physicochemical properties can shift the polymorphic landscape toward other conformational states.
Most eukaryotic proteins are composed of two or more domains. These assemble in a modular manner to create new proteins usually by the acquisition of one or more domains to an existing protein. Promiscuous domains which are found embedded in a variety of proteins and co-exist with many other domains are of particular interest and were shown to have roles in signaling pathways and mediating network communication. The evolution of domain promiscuity is still an open problem, mostly due to the lack of sequenced ancestral genomes. Here we use inferred domain architectures of ancestral genomes to trace the evolution of domain promiscuity in eukaryotic genomes. We find an increase in average promiscuity along many branches of the eukaryotic tree. Moreover, domain promiscuity can proceed at almost a steady rate over long evolutionary time or exhibit lineage-specific acceleration. We also observe that many signaling and regulatory domains gained domain promiscuity around the Bilateria divergence. In addition we show that those domains that played a role in the creation of two body axes and existed before the divergence of the bilaterians from fungi/metazoan achieve a boost in their promiscuities during the bilaterian evolution.
Protein evolution is most commonly studied by analyzing related protein sequences and generating ancestral sequences through Bayesian and Maximum Likelihood methods, and/or by resurrecting ancestral proteins in the lab and performing ligand binding studies to determine function. Structural and dynamic evolution have largely been left out of molecular evolution studies. Here we incorporate both structure and dynamics to elucidate the molecular principles behind the divergence in the evolutionary path of the steroid receptor proteins. We determine the likely structure of three evolutionarily diverged ancestral steroid receptor proteins using the Zipping and Assembly Method with FRODA (ZAMF). Our predictions are within ∼2.7 Å all-atom RMSD of the respective crystal structures of the ancestral steroid receptors. Beyond static structure prediction, a particular feature of ZAMF is that it generates protein dynamics information. We investigate the differences in conformational dynamics of diverged proteins by obtaining the most collective motion through essential dynamics. Strikingly, our analysis shows that evolutionarily diverged proteins of the same family do not share the same dynamic subspace, while those sharing the same function are simultaneously clustered together and distant from those, that have functionally diverged. Dynamic analysis also enables those mutations that most affect dynamics to be identified. It correctly predicts all mutations (functional and permissive) necessary to evolve new function and ∼60% of permissive mutations necessary to recover ancestral function.
Proteins are remarkable machines of the living systems that show diverse biochemical functions. Biochemical diversity has grown over time via molecular evolution. In order to understand how diversity arose, it is fundamental to understand how the earliest proteins evolved and served as templates for the present diverse proteome. The one sequence - one structure - one function paradigm is being extended to a new view: an ensemble of different conformations in equilibrium can evolve new function and the analysis of inherent structural dynamics is crucial to give a more complete understanding of protein evolution. Therefore, we aim to bring structural dynamics into protein evolution through our zipping and assembly method with FRODA. (ZAMF). We apply ZAMF to simultaneously obtain structures and structural dynamics of three ancestral sequences of steroid receptor proteins. By comparative dynamics analysis among the three ancestral steroid hormone receptors: (i) we show that changes in the structural dynamics indicates functional divergence and (ii) we identify all functionally critical and most of the permissive mutations necessary to evolve new function. Overall, all these findings suggest that conformational dynamics may play an important role where new functions evolve through novel molecular interactions.
Cu2+ binding to Alzheimer’s β (Aβ) peptides in amyloid fibrils has attracted broad attention, as it was shown that Cu ion concentration elevates in Alzheimer’s senile plaque and such association of Aβ with Cu2+ triggers the production of neurotoxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as H2O2. However, detailed binding sites and binding structures of Cu2+ to Aβ are still largely unknown for Aβ fibrils or other aggregates of Aβ. In this work, we examined molecular details of Cu2+ binding to amyloid fibrils by detecting paramagnetic signal quenching in 1D and 2D high-resolution 13C SSNMR for full-length 40-residue Aβ(1–40). Selective quenching observed in 13C SSNMR of Cu2+-bound Aβ(1–40) suggested that primary Cu2+ binding sites in Aβ(1–40) fibrils include Nε in His-13 and His-14, and carboxyl groups in Val-40 as well as in Glu side chains (Glu-3, Glu-11, and/or Glu-22). 13C chemical shift analysis demonstrated no major structural changes upon Cu2+ binding in the hydrophobic core regions (residues 18–25 and 30–36). Although the ROS production via oxidization of Met-35 in the presence of Cu2+ has been long suspected, our SSNMR analysis of 13CεH3-S- in M35 showed little changes after Cu2+ binding, excluding the possibility of Met-35 oxidization by Cu2+ alone. Preliminary molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on Cu2+-Aβ complex in amyloid fibrils confirmed binding sites suggested by the SSNMR results and the stabilities of such bindings. The MD simulations also indicate the coexistence of a variety of Cu2+-binding modes unique in Aβ fibril, which are realized by both intra- and inter-molecular contacts and highly concentrated coordination sites due to the in-register parallel β-sheet arrangements.
Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) is a receptor that plays an essential role in angiogenesis, vascular permeability and nervous system development. Previous studies have shown that peptides with an N-terminal Arg, especially peptides with the four residue consensus sequence R/K/XXR/K bind to NRP-1 cell surfaces. Peptides containing such consensus sequences promote binding and internalization into cells, while blocking the C-terminal Arg (or Lys) prevents the internalization. In this study we use molecular dynamics simulations to model the structural properties of the NRP-1 complex with a prototypic CendR peptide, RPAR. Our simulations show that RPAR binds NRP-1 through specific interactions of the RPAR C-terminus: three hydrogen bonds and a salt bridge anchor the ligand in the receptor pocket. The modeling results were used as the starting point for a systematic computational study of new RPAR analogs based on chemical modifications of its natural amino acids. Comparison of the structural properties of the new peptide - receptor complexes with the original organization suggest that some of the analogs can increase the binding affinity while reducing the natural sensitivity of RXXR to endogenous proteases.
The KIX domain of CBP is a transcriptional coactivator. Concomitant binding to the activation domain of proto-oncogene protein c-Myb and the transactivation domain of the trithorax group protein mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) transcription factor lead to the biologically active ternary MLL∶KIX∶c-Myb complex which plays a role in Pol II-mediated transcription. The binding of the activation domain of MLL to KIX enhances c-Myb binding. Here we carried out molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for the MLL∶KIX∶c-Myb ternary complex, its binary components and KIX with the goal of providing a mechanistic explanation for the experimental observations. The dynamic behavior revealed that the MLL binding site is allosterically coupled to the c-Myb binding site. MLL binding redistributes the conformational ensemble of KIX, leading to higher populations of states which favor c-Myb binding. The key element in the allosteric communication pathways is the KIX loop, which acts as a control mechanism to enhance subsequent binding events. We tested this conclusion by in silico mutations of loop residues in the KIX∶MLL complex and by comparing wild type and mutant dynamics through MD simulations. The loop assumed MLL binding conformation similar to that observed in the KIX∶c-Myb state which disfavors the allosteric network. The coupling with c-Myb binding site faded, abolishing the positive cooperativity observed in the presence of MLL. Our major conclusion is that by eliciting a loop-mediated allosteric switch between the different states following the binding events, transcriptional activation can be regulated. The KIX system presents an example how nature makes use of conformational control in higher level regulation of transcriptional activity and thus cellular events.
CBP (CREB-binding protein) is a transcriptional regulator of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription. KIX is a domain of CBP. KIX binding to the activation domain of proto-oncogene protein c-Myb and the transactivation domain of the trithorax group protein mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) transcription factor forms the biologically active ternary MLL∶KIX∶c-Myb complex. This complex has been shown to play a key role in Pol II-mediated transcription. Experimental data show that the binding of the activation domain of MLL to KIX enhances c-Myb binding. Here, we studied the c-Myb∶KIX∶MLL ternary structure and models based on this structure, KIX-only, KIX-MLL, and c-Myb-KIX, by explicit solvent molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. MD simulations can help in figuring out allosteric events and thus functional mechanisms. Our in silico analysis of the dynamic behavior indicated that when MLL is bound, there is allosteric communication between the two KIX binding sites. We observed a shift in the conformational ensemble of KIX upon the binding of the MLL activation domain, leading to a pre-organization of the KIX∶c-Myb binding site and explaining the enhanced c-Myb binding observed experimentally. On the other hand, this is not the case if c-Myb binds to KIX, which suggests that KIX regulation is under conformational control.
A general paradigm to understand protein function is to look at properties of isolated well conserved domains, such as SH3 or PDZ domains. While common features of domain families are well understood, the role of subtle differences among members of these families is less clear. Here, molecular dynamics simulations indicate that the binding mechanism in PSD95-PDZ3 is critically regulated via interactions outside the canonical binding site, involving both the poorly conserved loop and an extra-domain helix. Using the CRIPT peptide as a prototypical ligand, our simulations suggest that a network of salt-bridges between the ligand and this loop is necessary for binding. These contacts interconvert between each other on a time scale of a few tens of nanoseconds, making them elusive to X-ray crystallography. The loop is stabilized by an extra-domain helix. The latter influences the global dynamics of the domain, considerably increasing binding affinity. We found that two key contacts between the helix and the domain, one involving the loop, provide an atomistic interpretation of the increased affinity. Our analysis indicates that both extra-domain segments and loosely conserved regions play critical roles in PDZ binding affinity and specificity.
Protein interactions play crucial roles in all biological processes. A common way of studying them is to focus on sub-parts of proteins, called domains, that mediate specific types of interactions. For instance, it is known that most PDZ domains mediate protein interactions by binding to the C-terminus of other proteins. Humans have more than 200 slightly different copies of these domains. At the level of the binding site, PDZ domains look quite similar. This is in apparent contradiction with their heterogeneous binding specificity. Using detailed molecular dynamics simulations in conjunction with statistical analysis, we predict that contacts outside of the canonical binding site play important roles in regulating protein interactions. Some of these contacts influence the overall dynamics of PDZ domains, providing an explanation for their allosteric effect. These interactions involve regions of the PDZ domains that are much less conserved, suggesting that they can help in differentiating selectivity in this large domain family.