Refinement of under-determined loops of Human Prion Protein by database-derived distance constraints.
ABSTRACT: Due to insufficient experimental restraints, a biologically critical loop region in PrP(c) (residues 167-171), which is a potential binding site for Protein X, is under-determined in most mammalian species. Here, we show that by adding information about distance constraints derived from a database of high-resolution protein structures, this under-determined loop as well as other secondary structural elements of the E200K variant of Human Prion Protein (hPrP(c)), a disease-related isoform, can be refined into more realistic structures in the structural ensemble with improved quality and increased accuracy. In particular, the ensemble becomes more compact after the refinement and the percentage of residues in the most favourable region of the Ramachandran diagram is increased to about 90% in the refined structures from the 80% to 85% range in the previously reported structures.
Project description:The NMR structures of three single-amino acid variants of the C-terminal domain of the human prion protein, hPrP(121-230), are presented. In hPrP(M166V) and hPrP(R220K) the substitution is with the corresponding residue in murine PrP, and in hPrP(S170N) it is with the corresponding Syrian hamster residue. All three substitutions are in the surface region of the structure of the cellular form of PrP (PrP(C)) that is formed by the C-terminal part of helix 3, with residues 218-230, and a loop of residues 166-172. This molecular region shows high species variability and has been implicated in specific interactions with a so far not further characterized "protein X," and it is related to the species barrier for transmission of prion diseases. As expected, the three variant hPrP(121-230) structures have the same global architecture as the previously determined wild-type bovine, human, murine, and Syrian hamster prion proteins, but with the present study two localized "conformational markers" could be related with single amino acid exchanges. These are the length and quality of definition of helix 3, and the NMR-observability of the residues in the loop 166-172. Poor definition of the C-terminal part of helix 3 is characteristic for murine PrP and has now been observed also for hPrP(R220K), and NMR observation of the complete loop 166-172 has so far been unique for Syrian hamster PrP and is now also documented for hPrP(S170N).
Project description:The pathological form of prion protein (PrP(Sc)), as other amyloidogenic proteins, causes a marked increase of membrane permeability. PrP(Sc) extracted from infected Syrian hamster brains induces a considerable change in membrane ionic conductance, although the contribution of this interaction to the molecular mechanism of neurodegeneration process is still controversial. We previously showed that the human PrP fragment 90-231 (hPrP??????) increases ionic conductance across artificial lipid bilayer, in a calcium-dependent manner, producing an alteration similar to that observed for PrP(Sc). In the present study we demonstrate that hPrP??????, pre-incubated with 10 mM Ca?? and then re-suspended in physiological external solution increases not only membrane conductance but neurotoxicity as well. Furthermore we show the existence of a direct link between these two effects as demonstrated by a highly statistically significant correlation in several experimental conditions. A similar correlation between increased membrane conductance and cell degeneration has been observed assaying hPrP?????? bearing pathogenic mutations (D202N and E200K). We also report that Ca?? binding to hPrP?????? induces a conformational change based on an alteration of secondary structure characterized by loss of alpha-helix content causing hydrophobic amino acid exposure and proteinase K resistance. These features, either acquired after controlled thermal denaturation or induced by D202N and E200K mutations were previously identified as responsible for hPrP?????? cytotoxicity. Finally, by in silico structural analysis, we propose that Ca?? binding to hPrP?????? modifies amino acid orientation, in the same way induced by E200K mutation, thus suggesting a pathway for the structural alterations responsible of PrP neurotoxicity.
Project description:The NMR structures of the recombinant human prion protein, hPrP(23-230), and two C-terminal fragments, hPrP(90-230) and hPrP(121-230), include a globular domain extending from residues 125-228, for which a detailed structure was obtained, and an N-terminal flexibly disordered "tail." The globular domain contains three alpha-helices comprising the residues 144-154, 173-194, and 200-228 and a short anti-parallel beta-sheet comprising the residues 128-131 and 161-164. Within the globular domain, three polypeptide segments show increased structural disorder: i.e., a loop of residues 167-171, the residues 187-194 at the end of helix 2, and the residues 219-228 in the C-terminal part of helix 3. The local conformational state of the polypeptide segments 187-193 in helix 2 and 219-226 in helix 3 is measurably influenced by the length of the N-terminal tail, with the helical states being most highly populated in hPrP(23-230). When compared with the previously reported structures of the murine and Syrian hamster prion proteins, the length of helix 3 coincides more closely with that in the Syrian hamster protein whereas the disordered loop 167-171 is shared with murine PrP. These species variations of local structure are in a surface area of the cellular form of PrP that has previously been implicated in intermolecular interactions related both to the species barrier for infectious transmission of prion disease and to immune reactions.
Project description:Achieving atomic-level accuracy in comparative protein models is limited by our ability to refine the initial, homolog-derived model closer to the native state. Despite considerable effort, progress in developing a generalized refinement method has been limited. In contrast, methods have been described that can accurately reconstruct loop conformations in native protein structures. We hypothesize that loop refinement in homology models is much more difficult than loop reconstruction in crystal structures, in part, because side-chain, backbone, and other structural inaccuracies surrounding the loop create a challenging sampling problem; the loop cannot be refined without simultaneously refining adjacent portions. In this work, we single out one sampling issue in an artificial but useful test set and examine how loop refinement accuracy is affected by errors in surrounding side-chains. In 80 high-resolution crystal structures, we first perturbed 6-12 residue loops away from the crystal conformation, and placed all protein side chains in non-native but low energy conformations. Even these relatively small perturbations in the surroundings made the loop prediction problem much more challenging. Using a previously published loop prediction method, median backbone (N-Calpha-C-O) RMSD's for groups of 6, 8, 10, and 12 residue loops are 0.3/0.6/0.4/0.6 A, respectively, on native structures and increase to 1.1/2.2/1.5/2.3 A on the perturbed cases. We then augmented our previous loop prediction method to simultaneously optimize the rotamer states of side chains surrounding the loop. Our results show that this augmented loop prediction method can recover the native state in many perturbed structures where the previous method failed; the median RMSD's for the 6, 8, 10, and 12 residue perturbed loops improve to 0.4/0.8/1.1/1.2 A. Finally, we highlight three comparative models from blind tests, in which our new method predicted loops closer to the native conformation than first modeled using the homolog template, a task generally understood to be difficult. Although many challenges remain in refining full comparative models to high accuracy, this work offers a methodical step toward that goal.
Project description:The refinement of biomolecular crystallographic models relies on geometric restraints to help to address the paucity of experimental data typical in these experiments. Limitations in these restraints can degrade the quality of the resulting atomic models. Here, an integration of the full all-atom Amber molecular-dynamics force field into Phenix crystallographic refinement is presented, which enables more complete modeling of biomolecular chemistry. The advantages of the force field include a carefully derived set of torsion-angle potentials, an extensive and flexible set of atom types, Lennard-Jones treatment of nonbonded interactions and a full treatment of crystalline electrostatics. The new combined method was tested against conventional geometry restraints for over 22?000 protein structures. Structures refined with the new method show substantially improved model quality. On average, Ramachandran and rotamer scores are somewhat better, clashscores and MolProbity scores are significantly improved, and the modeling of electrostatics leads to structures that exhibit more, and more correct, hydrogen bonds than those refined using traditional geometry restraints. In general it is found that model improvements are greatest at lower resolutions, prompting plans to add the Amber target function to real-space refinement for use in electron cryo-microscopy. This work opens the door to the future development of more advanced applications such as Amber-based ensemble refinement, quantum-mechanical representation of active sites and improved geometric restraints for simulated annealing.
Project description:The prediction of loop structures is considered one of the main challenges in the protein folding problem. Regardless of the dependence of the overall algorithm on the protein data bank, the flexibility of loop regions dictates the need for special attention to their structures. In this article, we present algorithms for loop structure prediction with fixed stem and flexible stem geometry. In the flexible stem geometry problem, only the secondary structure of three stem residues on either side of the loop is known. In the fixed stem geometry problem, the structure of the three stem residues on either side of the loop is also known. Initial loop structures are generated using a probability database for the flexible stem geometry problem, and using torsion angle dynamics for the fixed stem geometry problem. Three rotamer optimization algorithms are introduced to alleviate steric clashes between the generated backbone structures and the side chain rotamers. The structures are optimized by energy minimization using an all-atom force field. The optimized structures are clustered using a traveling salesman problem-based clustering algorithm. The structures in the densest clusters are then utilized to refine dihedral angle bounds on all amino acids in the loop. The entire procedure is carried out for a number of iterations, leading to improved structure prediction and refined dihedral angle bounds. The algorithms presented in this article have been tested on 3190 loops from the PDBSelect25 data set and on targets from the recently concluded CASP9 community-wide experiment.
Project description:The quality of X-ray crystallographic models for biomacromolecules refined from data obtained at high-resolution is assured by the data itself. However, at low-resolution, >3.0 Å, additional information is supplied by a forcefield coupled with an associated refinement protocol. These resulting structures are often of lower quality and thus unsuitable for downstream activities like structure-based drug discovery.An X-ray crystallography refinement protocol that enhances standard methodology by incorporating energy terms from the HINT (Hydropathic INTeractions) empirical forcefield is described. This protocol was tested by refining synthetic low-resolution structural data derived from 25 diverse high-resolution structures, and referencing the resulting models to these structures. The models were also evaluated with global structural quality metrics, e.g., Ramachandran score and MolProbity clashscore. Three additional structures, for which only low-resolution data are available, were also re-refined with this methodology.The enhanced refinement protocol is most beneficial for reflection data at resolutions of 3.0 Å or worse. At the low-resolution limit, ?4.0 Å, the new protocol generated models with C? positions that have RMSDs that are 0.18 Å more similar to the reference high-resolution structure, Ramachandran scores improved by 13%, and clashscores improved by 51%, all in comparison to models generated with the standard refinement protocol. The hydropathic forcefield terms are at least as effective as Coulombic electrostatic terms in maintaining polar interaction networks, and significantly more effective in maintaining hydrophobic networks, as synthetic resolution is decremented. Even at resolutions ?4.0 Å, these latter networks are generally native-like, as measured with a hydropathic interactions scoring tool.
Project description:X-ray crystallography typically uses a single set of coordinates and B factors to describe macromolecular conformations. Refinement of multiple copies of the entire structure has been previously used in specific cases as an alternative means of representing structural flexibility. Here, we systematically validate this method by using simulated diffraction data, and we find that ensemble refinement produces better representations of the distributions of atomic positions in the simulated structures than single-conformer refinements. Comparison of principal components calculated from the refined ensembles and simulations shows that concerted motions are captured locally, but that correlations dissipate over long distances. Ensemble refinement is also used on 50 experimental structures of varying resolution and leads to decreases in R(free) values, implying that improvements in the representation of flexibility observed for the simulated structures may apply to real structures. These gains are essentially independent of resolution or data-to-parameter ratio, suggesting that even structures at moderate resolution can benefit from ensemble refinement.
Project description:A molecular dynamics (MD) simulation based protocol for structure refinement of template-based model predictions is described. The protocol involves the application of restraints, ensemble averaging of selected subsets, interpolation between initial and refined structures, and assessment of refinement success. It is found that sub-microsecond MD-based sampling when combined with ensemble averaging can produce moderate but consistent refinement for most systems in the CASP targets considered here.
Project description:We report a refinement in implicit water of the previously published solution structure of the Grb7-SH2 domain bound to the erbB2 receptor peptide pY1139. Structure quality measures indicate substantial improvement, with residues in the most favored regions of the Ramachandran plot increasing by 14 % and with WHAT IF statistics (Vriend, G. J. Mol. Graph., 1990, 8(1), 52-56) falling closer to expected values for well-refined structures.