Motivation: Proteins of all kinds can self-assemble into highly ordered β-sheet aggregates known as amyloid fibrils, important both biologically and clinically. However, the specific molecular structure of a fibril can vary dramatically depending on sequence and environmental conditions, and mutations can drastically alter amyloid function and pathogenicity. Experimental structure determination has proven extremely difficult with only a handful of NMR-based models proposed, suggesting a need for computational methods.
Results: We present AmyloidMutants, a statistical mechanics approach for de novo prediction and analysis of wild-type and mutant amyloid structures. Based on the premise of protein mutational landscapes, AmyloidMutants energetically quantifies the effects of sequence mutation on fibril conformation and stability. Tested on non-mutant, full-length amyloid structures with known chemical shift data, AmyloidMutants offers roughly 2-fold improvement in prediction accuracy over existing tools. Moreover, AmyloidMutants is the only method to predict complete super-secondary structures, enabling accurate discrimination of topologically dissimilar amyloid conformations that correspond to the same sequence locations. Applied to mutant prediction, AmyloidMutants identifies a global conformational switch between Aβ and its highly-toxic ‘Iowa’ mutant in agreement with a recent experimental model based on partial chemical shift data. Predictions on mutant, yeast-toxic strains of HET-s suggest similar alternate folds. When applied to HET-s and a HET-s mutant with core asparagines replaced by glutamines (both highly amyloidogenic chemically similar residues abundant in many amyloids), AmyloidMutants surprisingly predicts a greatly reduced capacity of the glutamine mutant to form amyloid. We confirm this finding by conducting mutagenesis experiments.
Availability: Our tool is publically available on the web at http://amyloid.csail.mit.edu/.
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Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.