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1.  RNA Bricks—a database of RNA 3D motifs and their interactions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(D1):D123-D131.
The RNA Bricks database (http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/rnabricks), stores information about recurrent RNA 3D motifs and their interactions, found in experimentally determined RNA structures and in RNA–protein complexes. In contrast to other similar tools (RNA 3D Motif Atlas, RNA Frabase, Rloom) RNA motifs, i.e. ‘RNA bricks’ are presented in the molecular environment, in which they were determined, including RNA, protein, metal ions, water molecules and ligands. All nucleotide residues in RNA bricks are annotated with structural quality scores that describe real-space correlation coefficients with the electron density data (if available), backbone geometry and possible steric conflicts, which can be used to identify poorly modeled residues. The database is also equipped with an algorithm for 3D motif search and comparison. The algorithm compares spatial positions of backbone atoms of the user-provided query structure and of stored RNA motifs, without relying on sequence or secondary structure information. This enables the identification of local structural similarities among evolutionarily related and unrelated RNA molecules. Besides, the search utility enables searching ‘RNA bricks’ according to sequence similarity, and makes it possible to identify motifs with modified ribonucleotide residues at specific positions.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1084
PMCID: PMC3965019  PMID: 24220091
2.  A toolbox for developing bioinformatics software 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;13(2):244-257.
Creating useful software is a major activity of many scientists, including bioinformaticians. Nevertheless, software development in an academic setting is often unsystematic, which can lead to problems associated with maintenance and long-term availibility. Unfortunately, well-documented software development methodology is difficult to adopt, and technical measures that directly improve bioinformatic programming have not been described comprehensively. We have examined 22 software projects and have identified a set of practices for software development in an academic environment. We found them useful to plan a project, support the involvement of experts (e.g. experimentalists), and to promote higher quality and maintainability of the resulting programs. This article describes 12 techniques that facilitate a quick start into software engineering. We describe 3 of the 22 projects in detail and give many examples to illustrate the usage of particular techniques. We expect this toolbox to be useful for many bioinformatics programming projects and to the training of scientific programmers.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbr035
PMCID: PMC3294241  PMID: 21803787
software development; programming; project management; software quality
3.  Rational engineering of sequence specificity in R.MwoI restriction endonuclease 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(17):8579-8592.
R.MwoI is a Type II restriction endonucleases enzyme (REase), which specifically recognizes a palindromic interrupted DNA sequence 5′-GCNNNNNNNGC-3′ (where N indicates any nucleotide), and hydrolyzes the phosphodiester bond in the DNA between the 7th and 8th base in both strands. R.MwoI exhibits remote sequence similarity to R.BglI, a REase with known structure, which recognizes an interrupted palindromic target 5′-GCCNNNNNGGC-3′. A homology model of R.MwoI in complex with DNA was constructed and used to predict functionally important amino acid residues that were subsequently targeted by mutagenesis. The model, together with the supporting experimental data, revealed regions important for recognition of the common bases in DNA sequences recognized by R.BglI and R.MwoI. Based on the bioinformatics analysis, we designed substitutions of the S310 residue in R.MwoI to arginine or glutamic acid, which led to enzyme variants with altered sequence selectivity compared with the wild-type enzyme. The S310R variant of R.MwoI preferred the 5′-GCCNNNNNGGC-3′ sequence as a target, similarly to R.BglI, whereas the S310E variant preferentially cleaved a subset of the MwoI sites, depending on the identity of the 3rd and 9th nucleotide residues. Our results represent a case study of a REase sequence specificity alteration by a single amino acid substitution, based on a theoretical model in the absence of a crystal structure.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks570
PMCID: PMC3458533  PMID: 22735699
5.  Structural basis for the methylation of A1408 in 16S rRNA by a panaminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase NpmA from a clinical isolate and analysis of the NpmA interactions with the 30S ribosomal subunit 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(5):1903-1918.
NpmA, a methyltransferase that confers resistance to aminoglycosides was identified in an Escherichia coli clinical isolate. It belongs to the kanamycin–apramycin methyltransferase (Kam) family and specifically methylates the 16S rRNA at the N1 position of A1408. We determined the structures of apo-NpmA and its complexes with S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.4, 2.7 and 1.68 Å, respectively. We generated a number of NpmA variants with alanine substitutions and studied their ability to bind the cofactor, to methylate A1408 in the 30S subunit, and to confer resistance to kanamycin in vivo. Residues D30, W107 and W197 were found to be essential. We have also analyzed the interactions between NpmA and the 30S subunit by footprinting experiments and computational docking. Helices 24, 42 and 44 were found to be the main NpmA-binding site. Both experimental and theoretical analyses suggest that NpmA flips out the target nucleotide A1408 to carry out the methylation. NpmA is plasmid-encoded and can be transferred between pathogenic bacteria; therefore it poses a threat to the successful use of aminoglycosides in clinical practice. The results presented here will assist in the development of specific NpmA inhibitors that could restore the potential of aminoglycoside antibiotics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1033
PMCID: PMC3061052  PMID: 21062819
6.  The RNase H-like superfamily: new members, comparative structural analysis and evolutionary classification 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(7):4160-4179.
Ribonuclease H-like (RNHL) superfamily, also called the retroviral integrase superfamily, groups together numerous enzymes involved in nucleic acid metabolism and implicated in many biological processes, including replication, homologous recombination, DNA repair, transposition and RNA interference. The RNHL superfamily proteins show extensive divergence of sequences and structures. We conducted database searches to identify members of the RNHL superfamily (including those previously unknown), yielding >60 000 unique domain sequences. Our analysis led to the identification of new RNHL superfamily members, such as RRXRR (PF14239), DUF460 (PF04312, COG2433), DUF3010 (PF11215), DUF429 (PF04250 and COG2410, COG4328, COG4923), DUF1092 (PF06485), COG5558, OrfB_IS605 (PF01385, COG0675) and Peptidase_A17 (PF05380). Based on the clustering analysis we grouped all identified RNHL domain sequences into 152 families. Phylogenetic studies revealed relationships between these families, and suggested a possible history of the evolution of RNHL fold and its active site. Our results revealed clear division of the RNHL superfamily into exonucleases and endonucleases. Structural analyses of features characteristic for particular groups revealed a correlation between the orientation of the C-terminal helix with the exonuclease/endonuclease function and the architecture of the active site. Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of sequence-structure-function relationships in the RNHL superfamily that may guide functional studies of the previously uncharacterized protein families.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1414
PMCID: PMC3985635  PMID: 24464998
7.  Structural basis for the methylation of G1405 in 16S rRNA by aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase Sgm from an antibiotic producer: a diversity of active sites in m7G methyltransferases 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(12):4120-4132.
Sgm (Sisomicin-gentamicin methyltransferase) from antibiotic-producing bacterium Micromonospora zionensis is an enzyme that confers resistance to aminoglycosides like gentamicin and sisomicin by specifically methylating G1405 in bacterial 16S rRNA. Sgm belongs to the aminoglycoside resistance methyltransferase (Arm) family of enzymes that have been recently found to spread by horizontal gene transfer among disease-causing bacteria. Structural characterization of Arm enzymes is the key to understand their mechanism of action and to develop inhibitors that would block their activity. Here we report the structure of Sgm in complex with cofactors S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) and S-adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) at 2.0 and 2.1 Å resolution, respectively, and results of mutagenesis and rRNA footprinting, and protein-substrate docking. We propose the mechanism of methylation of G1405 by Sgm and compare it with other m7G methyltransferases, revealing a surprising diversity of active sites and binding modes for the same basic reaction of RNA modification. This analysis can serve as a stepping stone towards developing drugs that would specifically block the activity of Arm methyltransferases and thereby re-sensitize pathogenic bacteria to aminoglycoside antibiotics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq122
PMCID: PMC2896518  PMID: 20194115
8.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways. 2008 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D118-D121.
MODOMICS, a database devoted to the systems biology of RNA modification, has been subjected to substantial improvements. It provides comprehensive information on the chemical structure of modified nucleosides, pathways of their biosynthesis, sequences of RNAs containing these modifications and RNA-modifying enzymes. MODOMICS also provides cross-references to other databases and to literature. In addition to the previously available manually curated tRNA sequences from a few model organisms, we have now included additional tRNAs and rRNAs, and all RNAs with 3D structures in the Nucleic Acid Database, in which modified nucleosides are present. In total, 3460 modified bases in RNA sequences of different organisms have been annotated. New RNA-modifying enzymes have been also added. The current collection of enzymes includes mainly proteins for the model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and is currently being expanded to include proteins from other organisms, in particular Archaea and Homo sapiens. For enzymes with known structures, links are provided to the corresponding Protein Data Bank entries, while for many others homology models have been created. Many new options for database searching and querying have been included. MODOMICS can be accessed at http://genesilico.pl/modomics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn710
PMCID: PMC2686465  PMID: 18854352
9.  A novel homozygous p.Arg527Leu LMNA mutation in two unrelated Egyptian families causes overlapping mandibuloacral dysplasia and progeria syndrome 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(11):1134-1140.
Mandibuloacral dysplasia (MAD) is a rare disease resulting from a mutation of LMNA gene encoding lamins A and C. The most common mutation associated with this disease is a homozygous arginine 527 replacement by histidine. Three female patients originating from two unrelated families from Northeast Egypt were examined. Their growth was retarded; they had microcephaly, widened cranial sutures, prominent eyes and cheeks, micrognathia, dental crowding, hypoplastic mandible, acro-osteolysis of distal phalanges, and joint contractures. In addition, they presented some progeroid features, such as pinched nose, premature loss of teeth, loss of hair, scleroderma-like skin atrophy, spine rigidity, and waddling gait. The clinical presentation of the disease varied between the patient originating from Family 1 and patients from Family 2, suggesting that unknown, possibly epigenetic factors, modify the course of the disease. The first symptoms of the disease appeared at the age of 2.5 (a girl from Family 1), 5, and 3 years (girls from Family 2). All patients had the same, novel homozygous c.1580G>T LMNA mutation, resulting in the replacement of arginine 527 by leucine. Computational predictions of such substitution effects suggested that it might alter protein stability and increase the tendency for protein aggregation, and as a result, might influence its interaction with other proteins. In addition, restriction fragment-length polymorphism analysis performed in 178 unrelated individuals showed that up to 1.12% of inhabitants of Northeast Egypt might be heterozygous carriers of this mutation, suggesting the presence of a founder effect in this area.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.77
PMCID: PMC3476705  PMID: 22549407
LMNA; lamin A/C; mutation; mandibuloacral dysplasia; progeria
10.  Crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB, the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(6):1925-1934.
The structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB (BsTrmB), the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase, was determined at a resolution of 2.1 Å. This is the first structure of a member of the TrmB family to be determined by X-ray crystallography. It reveals a unique variant of the Rossmann-fold methyltransferase (RFM) structure, with the N-terminal helix folded on the opposite site of the catalytic domain. The architecture of the active site and a computational docking model of BsTrmB in complex with the methyl group donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine and the tRNA substrate provide an explanation for results from mutagenesis studies of an orthologous enzyme from Escherichia coli (EcTrmB). However, unlike EcTrmB, BsTrmB is shown here to be dimeric both in the crystal and in solution. The dimer interface has a hydrophobic core and buries a potassium ion and five water molecules. The evolutionary analysis of the putative interface residues in the TrmB family suggests that homodimerization may be a specific feature of TrmBs from Bacilli, which may represent an early stage of evolution to an obligatory dimer.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl116
PMCID: PMC1447647  PMID: 16600901
11.  Reassignment of specificities of two cap methyltransferase domains in the reovirus lambda2 protein 
Genome Biology  2001;2(9):research0038.1-research0038.6.
Background
The reovirus λ2 protein catalyzes mRNA capping, that is, addition of a guanosine to the 5' end of each transcript in a 5'-to-5' orientation, as well as transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) to the N7 atom of the added guanosyl moiety and subsequently to the ribose 2'-O atom of the first template-encoded nucleotide. The structure of the human reovirus core has been solved at 3.6 Å resolution, revealing a series of domains that include a putative guanylyltransferase domain and two putative methyltransferase (MTase) domains. It has been suggested that the order of domains in the λ2 protein corresponds to the order of reactions in the pathway and that the m7G (cap 0) and the 2'-O-ribose (cap 1) MTase activities may be exerted by the MTase 1 and the MTase 2 domains, respectively.
Results
We show that the reovirus MTase 1 domain shares a putative active site with the structurally characterized 2'-O-ribose MTases, including vaccinia virus cap 1 MTase, whereas the MTase 2 domain is structurally similar to glycine N-MTase.
Conclusions
On the basis of our analysis of the structural details we propose that the previously suggested functional assignments of the MTase 1 and MTase 2 domains should be swapped.
PMCID: PMC56899  PMID: 11574057
12.  Crohn's Disease Risk Alleles on the NOD2 Locus Have Been Maintained by Natural Selection on Standing Variation 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2012;29(6):1569-1585.
Risk alleles for complex diseases are widely spread throughout human populations. However, little is known about the geographic distribution and frequencies of risk alleles, which may contribute to differences in disease susceptibility and prevalence among populations. Here, we focus on Crohn's disease (CD) as a model for the evolutionary study of complex disease alleles. Recent genome-wide association studies and classical linkage analyses have identified more than 70 susceptible genomic regions for CD in Europeans, but only a few have been confirmed in non-European populations. Our analysis of eight European-specific susceptibility genes using HapMap data shows that at the NOD2 locus the CD-risk alleles are linked with a haplotype specific to CEU at a frequency that is significantly higher compared with the entire genome. We subsequently examined nine global populations and found that the CD-risk alleles spread through hitchhiking with a high-frequency haplotype (H1) exclusive to Europeans. To examine the neutrality of NOD2, we performed phylogenetic network analyses, coalescent simulation, protein structural prediction, characterization of mutation patterns, and estimations of population growth and time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA). We found that while H1 was significantly prevalent in European populations, the H1 TMRCA predated human migration out of Africa. H1 is likely to have undergone negative selection because 1) the root of H1 genealogy is defined by a preexisting amino acid substitution that causes serious conformational changes to the NOD2 protein, 2) the haplotype has almost become extinct in Africa, and 3) the haplotype has not been affected by the recent European expansion reflected in the other haplotypes. Nevertheless, H1 has survived in European populations, suggesting that the haplotype is advantageous to this group. We propose that several CD-risk alleles, which destabilize and disrupt the NOD2 protein, have been maintained by natural selection on standing variation because the deleterious haplotype of NOD2 is advantageous in diploid individuals due to heterozygote advantage and/or intergenic interactions.
doi:10.1093/molbev/mss006
PMCID: PMC3697811  PMID: 22319155
Crohn's disease; NOD2; hitchhiking effect; natural selection; standing variation; mildly deleterious mutation
13.  QA-RecombineIt: a server for quality assessment and recombination of protein models 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(Web Server issue):W389-W397.
QA-RecombineIt provides a web interface to assess the quality of protein 3D structure models and to improve the accuracy of models by merging fragments of multiple input models. QA-RecombineIt has been developed for protein modelers who are working on difficult problems, have a set of different homology models and/or de novo models (from methods such as I-TASSER or ROSETTA) and would like to obtain one consensus model that incorporates the best parts into one structure that is internally coherent. An advanced mode is also available, in which one can modify the operation of the fragment recombination algorithm by manually identifying individual fragments or entire models to recombine. Our method produces up to 100 models that are expected to be on the average more accurate than the starting models. Therefore, our server may be useful for crystallographic protein structure determination, where protein models are used for Molecular Replacement to solve the phase problem. To address the latter possibility, a special feature was added to the QA-RecombineIt server. The QA-RecombineIt server can be freely accessed at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/qarecombineit/.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt408
PMCID: PMC3692112  PMID: 23700309
14.  RNAlyzer—novel approach for quality analysis of RNA structural models 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(12):5978-5990.
The continuously increasing amount of RNA sequence and experimentally determined 3D structure data drives the development of computational methods supporting exploration of these data. Contemporary functional analysis of RNA molecules, such as ribozymes or riboswitches, covers various issues, among which tertiary structure modeling becomes more and more important. A growing number of tools to model and predict RNA structure calls for an evaluation of these tools and the quality of outcomes their produce. Thus, the development of reliable methods designed to meet this need is relevant in the context of RNA tertiary structure analysis and can highly influence the quality and usefulness of RNA tertiary structure prediction in the nearest future. Here, we present RNAlyzer—a computational method for comparison of RNA 3D models with the reference structure and for discrimination between the correct and incorrect models. Our approach is based on the idea of local neighborhood, defined as a set of atoms included in the sphere centered around a user-defined atom. A unique feature of the RNAlyzer is the simultaneous visualization of the model-reference structure distance at different levels of detail, from the individual residues to the entire molecules.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt318
PMCID: PMC3695499  PMID: 23620294
15.  CompaRNA: a server for continuous benchmarking of automated methods for RNA secondary structure prediction 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(7):4307-4323.
We present a continuous benchmarking approach for the assessment of RNA secondary structure prediction methods implemented in the CompaRNA web server. As of 3 October 2012, the performance of 28 single-sequence and 13 comparative methods has been evaluated on RNA sequences/structures released weekly by the Protein Data Bank. We also provide a static benchmark generated on RNA 2D structures derived from the RNAstrand database. Benchmarks on both data sets offer insight into the relative performance of RNA secondary structure prediction methods on RNAs of different size and with respect to different types of structure. According to our tests, on the average, the most accurate predictions obtained by a comparative approach are generated by CentroidAlifold, MXScarna, RNAalifold and TurboFold. On the average, the most accurate predictions obtained by single-sequence analyses are generated by CentroidFold, ContextFold and IPknot. The best comparative methods typically outperform the best single-sequence methods if an alignment of homologous RNA sequences is available. This article presents the results of our benchmarks as of 3 October 2012, whereas the rankings presented online are continuously updated. We will gladly include new prediction methods and new measures of accuracy in the new editions of CompaRNA benchmarks.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt101
PMCID: PMC3627593  PMID: 23435231
16.  Structural analysis of monomeric retroviral reverse transcriptase in complex with an RNA/DNA hybrid 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(6):3874-3887.
A key step in proliferation of retroviruses is the conversion of their RNA genome to double-stranded DNA, a process catalysed by multifunctional reverse transcriptases (RTs). Dimeric and monomeric RTs have been described, the latter exemplified by the enzyme of Moloney murine leukaemia virus. However, structural information is lacking that describes the substrate binding mechanism for a monomeric RT. We report here the first crystal structure of a complex between an RNA/DNA hybrid substrate and polymerase-connection fragment of the single-subunit RT from xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus, a close relative of Moloney murine leukaemia virus. A comparison with p66/p51 human immunodeficiency virus-1 RT shows that substrate binding around the polymerase active site is conserved but differs in the thumb and connection subdomains. Small-angle X-ray scattering was used to model full-length xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus RT, demonstrating that its mobile RNase H domain becomes ordered in the presence of a substrate—a key difference between monomeric and dimeric RTs.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt053
PMCID: PMC3616737  PMID: 23382176
17.  RNAmap2D – calculation, visualization and analysis of contact and distance maps for RNA and protein-RNA complex structures 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:333.
Background
The structures of biological macromolecules provide a framework for studying their biological functions. Three-dimensional structures of proteins, nucleic acids, or their complexes, are difficult to visualize in detail on flat surfaces, and algorithms for their spatial superposition and comparison are computationally costly. Molecular structures, however, can be represented as 2D maps of interactions between the individual residues, which are easier to visualize and compare, and which can be reconverted to 3D structures with reasonable precision. There are many visualization tools for maps of protein structures, but few for nucleic acids.
Results
We developed RNAmap2D, a platform-independent software tool for calculation, visualization and analysis of contact and distance maps for nucleic acid molecules and their complexes with proteins or ligands. The program addresses the problem of paucity of bioinformatics tools dedicated to analyzing RNA 2D maps, given the growing number of experimentally solved RNA structures in the Protein Data Bank (PDB) repository, as well as the growing number of tools for RNA 2D and 3D structure prediction. RNAmap2D allows for calculation and analysis of contacts and distances between various classes of atoms in nucleic acid, protein, and small ligand molecules. It also discriminates between different types of base pairing and stacking.
Conclusions
RNAmap2D is an easy to use method to visualize, analyze and compare structures of nucleic acid molecules and their complexes with other molecules, such as proteins or ligands and metal ions. Its special features make it a very useful tool for analysis of tertiary structures of RNAs. RNAmap2D for Windows/Linux/MacOSX is freely available for academic users at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/rnamap2d.html
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-333
PMCID: PMC3556492  PMID: 23259794
Contact maps; Distance maps; RNA secondary structure; RNA base pairing; RNA stacking; Protein-RNA complex; Docking
18.  RNApathwaysDB—a database of RNA maturation and decay pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D268-D272.
Many RNA molecules undergo complex maturation, involving e.g. excision from primary transcripts, removal of introns, post-transcriptional modification and polyadenylation. The level of mature, functional RNAs in the cell is controlled not only by the synthesis and maturation but also by degradation, which proceeds via many different routes. The systematization of data about RNA metabolic pathways and enzymes taking part in RNA maturation and degradation is essential for the full understanding of these processes. RNApathwaysDB, available online at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/rnapathwaysdb, is an online resource about maturation and decay pathways involving RNA as the substrate. The current release presents information about reactions and enzymes that take part in the maturation and degradation of tRNA, rRNA and mRNA, and describes pathways in three model organisms: Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Homo sapiens. RNApathwaysDB can be queried with keywords, and sequences of protein enzymes involved in RNA processing can be searched with BLAST. Options for data presentation include pathway graphs and tables with enzymes and literature data. Structures of macromolecular complexes involving RNA and proteins that act on it are presented as ‘potato models’ using DrawBioPath—a new javascript tool.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks1052
PMCID: PMC3531052  PMID: 23155061
19.  The utility of comparative models and the local model quality for protein crystal structure determination by Molecular Replacement 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:289.
Background
Computational models of protein structures were proved to be useful as search models in Molecular Replacement (MR), a common method to solve the phase problem faced by macromolecular crystallography. The success of MR depends on the accuracy of a search model. Unfortunately, this parameter remains unknown until the final structure of the target protein is determined. During the last few years, several Model Quality Assessment Programs (MQAPs) that predict the local accuracy of theoretical models have been developed. In this article, we analyze whether the application of MQAPs improves the utility of theoretical models in MR.
Results
For our dataset of 615 search models, the real local accuracy of a model increases the MR success ratio by 101% compared to corresponding polyalanine templates. On the contrary, when local model quality is not utilized in MR, the computational models solved only 4.5% more MR searches than polyalanine templates. For the same dataset of the 615 models, a workflow combining MR with predicted local accuracy of a model found 45% more correct solution than polyalanine templates. To predict such accuracy MetaMQAPclust, a “clustering MQAP” was used.
Conclusions
Using comparative models only marginally increases the MR success ratio in comparison to polyalanine structures of templates. However, the situation changes dramatically once comparative models are used together with their predicted local accuracy. A new functionality was added to the GeneSilico Fold Prediction Metaserver in order to build models that are more useful for MR searches. Additionally, we have developed a simple method, AmIgoMR (Am I good for MR?), to predict if an MR search with a template-based model for a given template is likely to find the correct solution.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-289
PMCID: PMC3534383  PMID: 23126528
Molecular replacement; MR; MQAP; Model quality assessment; Protein structure prediction
20.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways—2013 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(D1):D262-D267.
MODOMICS is a database of RNA modifications that provides comprehensive information concerning the chemical structures of modified ribonucleosides, their biosynthetic pathways, RNA-modifying enzymes and location of modified residues in RNA sequences. In the current database version, accessible at http://modomics.genesilico.pl, we included new features: a census of human and yeast snoRNAs involved in RNA-guided RNA modification, a new section covering the 5′-end capping process, and a catalogue of ‘building blocks’ for chemical synthesis of a large variety of modified nucleosides. The MODOMICS collections of RNA modifications, RNA-modifying enzymes and modified RNAs have been also updated. A number of newly identified modified ribonucleosides and more than one hundred functionally and structurally characterized proteins from various organisms have been added. In the RNA sequences section, snRNAs and snoRNAs with experimentally mapped modified nucleosides have been added and the current collection of rRNA and tRNA sequences has been substantially enlarged. To facilitate literature searches, each record in MODOMICS has been cross-referenced to other databases and to selected key publications. New options for database searching and querying have been implemented, including a BLAST search of protein sequences and a PARALIGN search of the collected nucleic acid sequences.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks1007
PMCID: PMC3531130  PMID: 23118484
21.  Identification and modeling of a phosphatase-like domain in a tRNA 2′-O-ribosyl phosphate transferase Rit1p 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(20):3566-3570.
Cytoplasmic initiator tRNAs from plants and fungi are excluded from participating in translational elongation by the presence of a unique 2′-phosphoribosyl modification of purine 64, introduced posttranscriptionally by the enzyme Rit1p. Members of the Rit1p family show no obvious similarity to other proteins or domains, there is no structural information available to guide experimental analyses, and the mechanism of action of this enzyme remains a mystery. Using protein fold recognition, we identified a phosphatase-like domain in the C-terminal part of Rit1p. A comparative model of the C-terminal domain was constructed and used to predict the function of conserved residues and to propose the mechanism of action of Rit1p. The model will facilitate experimental analyses of Rit1p and its interactions with the initiator tRNA substrate.
doi:10.4161/cc.10.20.17857
PMCID: PMC3266182  PMID: 22030622
fold recognition; homology modeling; tRNA modification; Rit1p; bioinformatics
22.  Sequence-specific cleavage of the RNA strand in DNA–RNA hybrids by the fusion of ribonuclease H with a zinc finger 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(22):11563-11570.
Ribonucleases (RNases) are valuable tools applied in the analysis of RNA sequence, structure and function. Their substrate specificity is limited to recognition of single bases or distinct secondary structures in the substrate. Currently, there are no RNases available for purely sequence-dependent fragmentation of RNA. Here, we report the development of a new enzyme that cleaves the RNA strand in DNA–RNA hybrids 5 nt from a nonanucleotide recognition sequence. The enzyme was constructed by fusing two functionally independent domains, a RNase HI, that hydrolyzes RNA in DNA–RNA hybrids in processive and sequence-independent manner, and a zinc finger that recognizes a sequence in DNA–RNA hybrids. The optimization of the fusion enzyme’s specificity was guided by a structural model of the protein-substrate complex and involved a number of steps, including site-directed mutagenesis of the RNase moiety and optimization of the interdomain linker length. Methods for engineering zinc finger domains with new sequence specificities are readily available, making it feasible to acquire a library of RNases that recognize and cleave a variety of sequences, much like the commercially available assortment of restriction enzymes. Potentially, zinc finger-RNase HI fusions may, in addition to in vitro applications, be used in vivo for targeted RNA degradation.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks885
PMCID: PMC3526281  PMID: 23042681
23.  Intrinsic Disorder in the Human Spliceosomal Proteome 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(8):e1002641.
The spliceosome is a molecular machine that performs the excision of introns from eukaryotic pre-mRNAs. This macromolecular complex comprises in human cells five RNAs and over one hundred proteins. In recent years, many spliceosomal proteins have been found to exhibit intrinsic disorder, that is to lack stable native three-dimensional structure in solution. Building on the previous body of proteomic, structural and functional data, we have carried out a systematic bioinformatics analysis of intrinsic disorder in the proteome of the human spliceosome. We discovered that almost a half of the combined sequence of proteins abundant in the spliceosome is predicted to be intrinsically disordered, at least when the individual proteins are considered in isolation. The distribution of intrinsic order and disorder throughout the spliceosome is uneven, and is related to the various functions performed by the intrinsic disorder of the spliceosomal proteins in the complex. In particular, proteins involved in the secondary functions of the spliceosome, such as mRNA recognition, intron/exon definition and spliceosomal assembly and dynamics, are more disordered than proteins directly involved in assisting splicing catalysis. Conserved disordered regions in spliceosomal proteins are evolutionarily younger and less widespread than ordered domains of essential spliceosomal proteins at the core of the spliceosome, suggesting that disordered regions were added to a preexistent ordered functional core. Finally, the spliceosomal proteome contains a much higher amount of intrinsic disorder predicted to lack secondary structure than the proteome of the ribosome, another large RNP machine. This result agrees with the currently recognized different functions of proteins in these two complexes.
Author Summary
In eukaryotic cells, introns are spliced out of proteincoding mRNAs by a highly dynamic and extraordinarily plastic molecular machine called the spliceosome. In recent years, multiple regions of intrinsic structural disorder were found in spliceosomal proteins. Intrinsically disordered regions lack stable native three-dimensional structure in solutions, which makes them structurally flexible and/or able to switch between different conformations. Hence, intrinsically disordered regions are the ideal candidate responsible for the spliceosome's plasticity. Intrinsically disordered regions are also frequently the sites of post-translational modifications, which were also proven to be important in spliceosome dynamics. In this article, we describe the results of a structural bioinformatics analysis focused on intrinsic disorder in the spliceosomal proteome. We systematically analyzed all known human spliceosomal proteins with regards to the presence and type of intrinsic disorder. Almost a half of the combined sequence of these spliceosomal proteins is predicted to be intrinsically disordered, and the type of intrinsic disorder in a protein varies with its function and its location in the spliceosome. The parts of the spliceosome that act earlier in the process are more disordered, which corresponds to their role in establishing a network of interactions, while the parts that act later are more ordered.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002641
PMCID: PMC3415423  PMID: 22912569
24.  Molecular evolution of dihydrouridine synthases 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:153.
Background
Dihydrouridine (D) is a modified base found in conserved positions in the D-loop of tRNA in Bacteria, Eukaryota, and some Archaea. Despite the abundant occurrence of D, little is known about its biochemical roles in mediating tRNA function. It is assumed that D may destabilize the structure of tRNA and thus enhance its conformational flexibility. D is generated post-transcriptionally by the reduction of the 5,6-double bond of a uridine residue in RNA transcripts. The reaction is carried out by dihydrouridine synthases (DUS). DUS constitute a conserved family of enzymes encoded by the orthologous gene family COG0042. In protein sequence databases, members of COG0042 are typically annotated as “predicted TIM-barrel enzymes, possibly dehydrogenases, nifR3 family”.
Results
To elucidate sequence-structure-function relationships in the DUS family, a comprehensive bioinformatic analysis was carried out. We performed extensive database searches to identify all members of the currently known DUS family, followed by clustering analysis to subdivide it into subfamilies of closely related sequences. We analyzed phylogenetic distributions of all members of the DUS family and inferred the evolutionary tree, which suggested a scenario for the evolutionary origin of dihydrouridine-forming enzymes. For a human representative of the DUS family, the hDus2 protein suggested as a potential drug target in cancer, we generated a homology model. While this article was under review, a crystal structure of a DUS representative has been published, giving us an opportunity to validate the model.
Conclusions
We compared sequences and phylogenetic distributions of all members of the DUS family and inferred the phylogenetic tree, which provides a framework to study the functional differences among these proteins and suggests a scenario for the evolutionary origin of dihydrouridine formation. Our evolutionary and structural classification of the DUS family provides a background to study functional differences among these proteins that will guide experimental analyses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-153
PMCID: PMC3674756  PMID: 22741570
Dihydrouridine synthases; Protein structure prediction; Fold recognition; Remote homology; RNA modification; Molecular evolution; Enzymes acting on RNA
25.  Delineation of structural domains and identification of functionally important residues in DNA repair enzyme exonuclease VII 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(16):8163-8174.
Exonuclease VII (ExoVII) is a bacterial nuclease involved in DNA repair and recombination that hydrolyses single-stranded DNA. ExoVII is composed of two subunits: large XseA and small XseB. Thus far, little was known about the molecular structure of ExoVII, the interactions between XseA and XseB, the architecture of the nuclease active site or its mechanism of action. We used bioinformatics methods to predict the structure of XseA, which revealed four domains: an N-terminal OB-fold domain, a middle putatively catalytic domain, a coiled-coil domain and a short C-terminal segment. By series of deletion and site-directed mutagenesis experiments on XseA from Escherichia coli, we determined that the OB-fold domain is responsible for DNA binding, the coiled-coil domain is involved in binding multiple copies of the XseB subunit and residues D155, R205, H238 and D241 of the middle domain are important for the catalytic activity but not for DNA binding. Altogether, we propose a model of sequence–structure–function relationships in ExoVII.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks547
PMCID: PMC3439923  PMID: 22718974

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