Packing helices in proteins by global optimization of a potential energy function.
ABSTRACT: An efficient method has been developed for packing alpha-helices in proteins. It treats alpha-helices as rigid bodies and uses a simplified Lennard-Jones potential with Miyazawa-Jernigan contact-energy parameters to describe the interactions between the alpha-helical elements in this coarse-grained system. Global conformational searches to generate packing arrangements rapidly are carried out with a Monte Carlo-with-minimization type of approach. The results for 42 proteins show that the approach reproduces native-like folds of alpha-helical proteins as low-energy local minima of this highly simplified potential function.
Project description:A method for the identification of alpha-helices in electron-density maps at low resolution followed by interpretation at moderate to high resolution is presented. Rapid identification is achieved at low resolution, where alpha-helices appear as tubes of density. The positioning and direction of the alpha-helices is obtained at moderate to high resolution, where the positions of side chains can be seen. The method was tested on a set of 42 experimental electron-density maps at resolutions ranging from 1.5 to 3.8 A. An average of 63% of the alpha-helical residues in these proteins were built and an average of 76% of the residues built matched helical residues in the refined models of the proteins. The overall average r.m.s.d. between main-chain atoms in the modeled alpha-helices and the nearest atom with the same name in the refined models of the proteins was 1.3 A.
Project description:To help elucidate the role of secondary structure packing preferences in protein folding, here we present an analysis of the packing geometry observed between alpha-helices and between alpha-helices and beta-sheets in 1316 diverse, nonredundant protein structures. Finite-length vectors were fit to the alpha-carbon atoms in each of the helices and strands, and the packing angle between the vectors, Omega, was determined at the closest point of approach within each helix-helix or helix-sheet pair. Helix-sheet interactions were found in 391 of the proteins, and the distributions of Omega values were calculated for all the helix-sheet and helix-helix interactions. The packing angle preferences for helix-helix interactions are similar to those previously observed. However, analysis of helix-strand packing preferences uncovered a remarkable tendency for helices to align antiparallel to parallel regions of beta-sheets, independent of the topological constraints or prevalence of beta-alpha-beta motifs in the proteins. This packing angle preference is significantly diminished in helix interactions involving mixed and antiparallel beta-sheets, suggesting a role for helix-sheet dipole alignment in guiding supersecondary structure formation in protein folding. This knowledge of preferred packing angles can be used to guide the engineering of stable protein modules.
Project description:The peptide backbones in folded native proteins contain distinctive secondary structures, alpha-helices, beta-sheets, and turns, with significant frequency. One question that arises in folding is how the stability of this secondary structure relates to that of the protein as a whole. To address this question, we substituted the alpha-helix-stabilizing alanine side chain at 16 selected sites in the sequence of sperm whale myoglobin, 12 at helical sites on the surface of the protein, and 4 at obviously internal sites. Substitution of alanine for bulky side chains at internal sites destabilizes the protein, as expected if packing interactions are disrupted. Alanine substitutions do not uniformly stabilize the protein, either in capping positions near the ends of helices or at mid-helical sites near the surface of myoglobin. When corrected for the extent of exposure of each side chain replaced by alanine at a mid-helix position, alanine replacement still has no clear effect in stabilizing the native structure. Thus linkage between the stabilization of secondary structure and tertiary structure in myoglobin cannot be demonstrated, probably because of the relatively small free energy differences between side chains in stabilizing isolated helix. By contrast, about 80% of the variance in free energy observed can be accounted for by the loss in buried surface area of the native residue substituted by alanine. The differential free energy of helix stabilization does not account for any additional variation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The de novo design of peptides and proteins has recently surfaced as an approach for investigating protein structure and function. This approach vitally tests our knowledge of protein folding and function, while also laying the groundwork for the fabrication of proteins with properties not precedented in nature. The success of these studies relies heavily on the ability to design relatively short peptides that can espouse stable secondary structures. To this end, substitution with alpha, beta-dehydroamino acids, especially alpha, beta-dehydrophenylalanine (Delta Phe) comes in use for spawning well-defined structural motifs. Introduction of Delta Phe induces beta-bends in small and 3(10)-helices in longer peptide sequences. RESULTS: The present report is an investigation of the effect of incorporating two glycines in the middle of a DeltaPhe containing undecapeptide. A de novo designed undecapeptide, Ac-Gly1-Ala2-Delta Phe3-Leu4-Gly5-Delta Phe6-Leu7-Gly8-Delta Phe9-Ala10-Gly11-NH2, was synthesized and characterized using X-ray diffraction and Circular Dichroism spectroscopic methods. Crystallographic studies suggest that, despite the presence of L-amino acid (L-Ala and L-Leu) residues in the middle of the sequence, the peptide adopts a 3(10)-helical conformation of ambidextrous screw sense, one of them a left-handed (A) and the other a right-handed (B) 3(10)-helix with A and B being antiparallel to each other. However, CD studies reveal that the undecapeptide exclusively adopts a right-handed 3(10)-helical conformation. In the crystal packing, three different interhelical interfaces, Leu-Leu, Gly-Gly and Delta Phe-Delta Phe are observed between the helices A and B. A network of C-H...O hydrogen bonds are observed at Delta Phe-Delta Phe and Gly-Gly interhelical interfaces. An important feature observed is the occurrence of glycine zipper motif at Gly-Gly interface. At this interface, the geometric pattern of interhelical interactions seems to resemble those observed between helices in transmembrane (TM) proteins. CONCLUSION: The present design strategy can thus be exploited in future work on de novo design of helical bundles of higher order and compaction utilizing Delta Phe residues along with GXXG motif.
Project description:The packing of helices spanning lipid bilayers is crucial for the stability and function of alpha-helical membrane proteins. Using a modified Voronoi procedure, we calculated packing densities for helix-helix contacts in membrane spanning domains. Our results show that the transmembrane helices of protein channels and transporters are significantly more loosely packed compared with helices in globular proteins. The observed packing deficiencies of these membrane proteins are also reflected by a higher amount of cavities at functionally important sites. The cavities positioned along the gated pores of membrane channels and transporters are noticeably lined by polar amino acids that should be exposed to the aqueous medium when the protein is in the open state. In contrast, nonpolar amino acids surround the cavities in those protein regions where large rearrangements are supposed to take place, as near the hinge regions of transporters or at restriction sites of protein channels. We presume that the observed deficiencies of helix-helix packing are essential for the helical mobility that sustains the function of many membrane protein channels and transporters.
Project description:Helix-helix interactions are important for the folding, stability, and function of membrane proteins. Here, two independent and complementary methods are used to investigate the nature and distribution of amino acids that mediate helix-helix interactions in membrane and soluble alpha-bundle proteins. The first method characterizes the packing density of individual amino acids in helical proteins based on the van der Waals surface area occluded by surrounding atoms. We have recently used this method to show that transmembrane helices pack more tightly, on average, than helices in soluble proteins. These studies are extended here to characterize the packing of interfacial and noninterfacial amino acids and the packing of amino acids in the interfaces of helices that have either right- or left-handed crossing angles, and either parallel or antiparallel orientations. We show that the most abundant tightly packed interfacial residues in membrane proteins are Gly, Ala, and Ser, and that helices with left-handed crossing angles are more tightly packed on average than helices with right-handed crossing angles. The second method used to characterize helix-helix interactions involves the use of helix contact plots. We find that helices in membrane proteins exhibit a broader distribution of interhelical contacts than helices in soluble proteins. Both helical membrane and soluble proteins make use of a general motif for helix interactions that relies mainly on four residues (Leu, Ala, Ile, Val) to mediate helix interactions in a fashion characteristic of left-handed helical coiled coils. However, a second motif for mediating helix interactions is revealed by the high occurrence and high average packing values of small and polar residues (Ala, Gly, Ser, Thr) in the helix interfaces of membrane proteins. Finally, we show that there is a strong linear correlation between the occurrence of residues in helix-helix interfaces and their packing values, and discuss these results with respect to membrane protein structure prediction and membrane protein stability.
Project description:We previously reported the design and synthesis of a new class of artificial alpha-helices in which an N-terminal main-chain hydrogen bond is replaced by a carbon-carbon bond derived from a ring-closing metathesis reaction [Chapman, R. N.; Dimartino, G.; Arora, P. S. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2004, 126, 12252-12253]. Our initial study utilized an alanine-rich sequence; in the present manuscript we evaluate the potential of this method for the synthesis of very short (10 residues) alpha-helices representing two different biologically relevant alpha-helical domains. We extensively characterized these two sets of artificial helices by NMR and circular dichroism spectroscopies and find that the hydrogen-bond surrogate approach can afford well-defined short alpha-helical structures from sequences that do not spontaneously form alpha-helical conformations.
Project description:Alpha-helical transmembrane proteins constitute roughly 30% of a typical genome and are involved in a wide variety of important biological processes including cell signalling, transport of membrane-impermeable molecules and cell recognition. Despite significant efforts to predict transmembrane protein topology, comparatively little attention has been directed toward developing a method to pack the helices together. Here, we present a novel approach to predict lipid exposure, residue contacts, helix-helix interactions and finally the optimal helical packing arrangement of transmembrane proteins. Using molecular dynamics data, we have trained and cross-validated a support vector machine (SVM) classifier to predict per residue lipid exposure with 69% accuracy. This information is combined with additional features to train a second SVM to predict residue contacts which are then used to determine helix-helix interaction with up to 65% accuracy under stringent cross-validation on a non-redundant test set. Our method is also able to discriminate native from decoy helical packing arrangements with up to 70% accuracy. Finally, we employ a force-directed algorithm to construct the optimal helical packing arrangement which demonstrates success for proteins containing up to 13 transmembrane helices. This software is freely available as source code from http://bioinf.cs.ucl.ac.uk/memsat/mempack/.
Project description:Neurodegenerative diseases induced by transmissible spongiform encephalopathies are associated with prions. The most spectacular event in the formation of the infectious scrapie form, referred to as PrP(Sc), is the conformational change from the predominantly alpha-helical conformation of PrP(C) to the PrP(Sc) state that is rich in beta-sheet content. Using sequence alignments and structural analysis of the available nuclear magnetic resonance structures of PrP(C), we explore the propensities of helices in PrP(C) to be in a beta-strand conformation. Comparison of a number of structural characteristics (such as solvent accessible area, distribution of (Phi, Psi) angles, mismatches in hydrogen bonds, nature of residues in local and nonlocal contacts, distribution of regular densities of amino acids, clustering of hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues in helices) between PrP(C) structures and a databank of "normal" proteins shows that the most unusual features are found in helix 2 (H2) (residues 172-194) followed by helix 1 (H1) (residues 144-153). In particular, the C-terminal residues in H2 are frustrated in their helical state. The databank of normal proteins consists of 58 helical proteins, 36 alpha+beta proteins, and 31 beta-sheet proteins. Our conclusions are also substantiated by gapless threading calculations that show that the normalized Z-scores of prion proteins are similar to those of other alpha+beta proteins with low helical content. Application of the recently introduced notion of discordance, namely, incompatibility of the predicted and observed secondary structures, also points to the frustration of H2 not only in the wild type but also in mutants of human PrP(C). This suggests that the instability of PrP(C) proteins may play a role in their being susceptible to the profound conformational change. Our analysis shows that, in addition to the previously proposed role for the segment (90-120) and possibly H1, the C-terminus of H2 and possibly N-terminus may play a role in the alpha-->beta transition. An implication of our results is that the ease of polymerization depends on the unfolding rate of the monomer. Sequence alignments show that helices in avian prion proteins (chicken, duck, crane) are better accommodated in a helical state, which might explain the absence of PrP(Sc) formation over finite time scales in these species. From this analysis, we predict that correlated mutations that reduce the frustration in the second half of helix 2 in mammalian prion proteins could inhibit the formation of PrP(Sc).
Project description:Small-residue-mediated interhelical packings are ubiquitously found in helical membrane proteins, although their interaction dynamics and lipid dependence remain mostly uncharacterized. We used a single-pair FRET technique to examine the effect of a GXXXG motif on the association of de?novo designed (AALALAA)3 helices in liposomes. Dimerization occurred with sub-second lifetimes, which was abolished by cholesterol. Utilizing the nearly instantaneous time-resolution of 2D IR spectroscopy, parallel and antiparallel helix associations were identified by vibrational couplings across helices at their interface. Taken together, the data illustrate that the GXXXG motif controls helix packing but still allows for a dynamic and lipid-regulated oligomeric state.