The inverted free energy landscape of an intrinsically disordered peptide by simulations and experiments.
ABSTRACT: The free energy landscape theory has been very successful in rationalizing the folding behaviour of globular proteins, as this representation provides intuitive information on the number of states involved in the folding process, their populations and pathways of interconversion. We extend here this formalism to the case of the A?40 peptide, a 40-residue intrinsically disordered protein fragment associated with Alzheimer's disease. By using an advanced sampling technique that enables free energy calculations to reach convergence also in the case of highly disordered states of proteins, we provide a precise structural characterization of the free energy landscape of this peptide. We find that such landscape has inverted features with respect to those typical of folded proteins. While the global free energy minimum consists of highly disordered structures, higher free energy regions correspond to a large variety of transiently structured conformations with secondary structure elements arranged in several different manners, and are not separated from each other by sizeable free energy barriers. From this peculiar structure of the free energy landscape we predict that this peptide should become more structured and not only more compact, with increasing temperatures, and we show that this is the case through a series of biophysical measurements.
Project description:Folding funnel is the essential concept of the free energy landscape for ordered proteins. How does this concept apply to intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs)? Here, we address this fundamental question through the explicit characterization of the free energy landscapes of the representative ?-helical (HP-35) and ?-sheet (WW domain) proteins and of an IDP (pKID) that folds upon binding to its partner (KIX). We demonstrate that HP-35 and WW domain indeed exhibit the steep folding funnel: the landscape slope for these proteins is ca. -50?kcal/mol, meaning that the free energy decreases by ~5?kcal/mol upon the formation of 10% native contacts. On the other hand, the landscape of pKID is funneled but considerably shallower (slope of -24?kcal/mol), which explains why pKID is disordered in free environments. Upon binding to KIX, the landscape of pKID now becomes significantly steep (slope of -54?kcal/mol), which enables otherwise disordered pKID to fold. We also show that it is the pKID-KIX intermolecular interactions originating from hydrophobic residues that mainly confer the steep folding funnel. The present work not only provides the quantitative characterization of the protein folding free energy landscape, but also establishes the usefulness of the folding funnel concept to IDPs.
Project description:The most fundamental aspect of the free energy landscape of proteins is that it is globally funneled such that protein folding is energetically biased. Then, what are the distinctive characteristics of the landscape of intrinsically disordered proteins, apparently lacking such energetic bias, that nevertheless fold upon binding? Here, we address this fundamental issue through the explicit characterization of the free energy landscape of the paradigmatic pKID-KIX system (pKID, phosphorylated kinase-inducible domain; KIX, kinase interacting domain). This is done based on unguided, fully atomistic, explicit-water molecular dynamics simulations with an aggregated simulation time of >30 ?s and on the computation of the free energy that defines the landscape. We find that, while the landscape of pKID before binding is considerably shallower than the one for a protein that autonomously folds, it becomes progressively more funneled as the binding of pKID with KIX proceeds. This explains why pKID is disordered in a free state, and the binding of pKID with KIX is a prerequisite for pKID's folding. In addition, we observe that the key event in completing the pKID-KIX coupled folding and binding is the directed self-assembly where pKID is docked upon the KIX surface to maximize the surface electrostatic complementarity, which, in turn, require pKID to adopt the correct folded structure. This key process shows up as the free energy barrier in the pKID landscape separating the intermediate nonspecific complex state and the specific complex state. The present work not only provides a detailed molecular picture of the coupled folding and binding of pKID but also expands the funneled landscape perspective to intrinsically disordered proteins.
Project description:Intrinsically disordered proteins are very common in the eukaryotic proteome, and many of them are associated with diseases. Disordered proteins usually undergo a coupled binding and folding reaction and often interact with many different binding partners. Using double mutant cycles, we mapped the energy landscape of the binding interface for two interacting disordered domains and found it to be largely suboptimal in terms of interaction free energies, despite relatively high affinity. These data depict a frustrated energy landscape for interactions involving intrinsically disordered proteins, which is likely a result of their functional promiscuity.
Project description:Coupled folding-binding is central to the function of many intrinsically disordered proteins, yet not fully understood. With a continuous three-letter protein model, we explore the free-energy landscape of pairs of interacting sequences and how it is impacted by 1), variations in the binding mechanism; and 2), the addition of disordered flanks to the binding region. In particular, we focus on two sequences, one with 16 and one with 35 amino acids, which make a stable dimeric three-helix bundle at low temperatures. Three distinct binding mechanisms are realized by altering the stabilities of the individual monomers: docking, coupled folding-binding of a single ?-helix, and synergistic folding and binding. Compared to docking, the free-energy barrier for binding is reduced when the single ?-helix is allowed to fold upon binding, but only marginally. A greater reduction is found for synergistic folding, which in addition results in a binding transition state characterized by very few interchain contacts. Disordered flanking chain segments attached to the ?-helix sequence can, despite a negligible impact on the dimer stability, lead to a downhill free-energy surface in which the barrier for binding is eliminated.
Project description:Probing underlying free energy landscape, pathways, and mechanism is the key for understanding protein folding in theory and experiment. Recently time-resolved two-dimensional infrared (2DIR) with femtosecond laser pulses, has emerged as a promising tool for investigating the protein folding dynamics on faster timescales than possible by NMR. We have employed molecular dynamics simulations to compute 2DIR spectra of the folding process of a peptide, Beta3s. Simulated non-chiral and chiral 2DIR signals illustrate the variation of the spectra as the peptide conformation evolves along the free energy landscape. Chiral spectra show stronger changes than the non-chiral signals because cross peaks caused by the formation of the ?-sheet are clearly resolved. Chirality-induced 2DIR may be used to detect the folding of ?-sheet proteins with high spectral and temporal resolution.
Project description:Understanding the folding of the ?-hairpin is a crucial step in studying how ?-rich proteins fold. We have studied CLN025, an optimized ten residue synthetic peptide, which adopts a compact, well-structured ?-hairpin conformation. Formation of the component ?-sheet and ?-turn structures of CLN025 was probed independently using a combination of equilibrium Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and laser-induced temperature jump coupled with time-resolved infrared and fluorescence spectroscopies. We find that CLN025 is an ultrafast folder due to its small free energy barrier to folding and that it exceeds the predicted speed limit for ?-hairpin formation by an order of magnitude. We also find that the folding mechanism cannot be described by a simple two-state model, but rather is a heterogeneous process involving two independent parallel processes. Formation of stabilizing cross-strand hydrophobic interactions and turn alignment occur competitively, with relaxation lifetimes of 82 ± 10 and 124 ± 10 ns, respectively, at the highest probed temperature. The ultrafast and heterogeneous folding kinetics observed for CLN025 provide evidence for folding on a nearly barrierless free energy landscape, and recalibrate the speed limit for the formation of a ?-hairpin.
Project description:UVR8 (UV RESISTANCE LOCUS 8) is a UV-B photoreceptor responsible for initiating UV-B signalling in plants. UVR8 is a homodimer in its signalling inactive form. Upon absorption of UV radiation, the protein monomerizes into its photoactivated state. In the monomeric form, UVR8 binds the E3 ubiquitin ligase COP1 (CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1), triggering subsequent UV-B-dependent photomorphogenic development in plants. Recent in vivo experiments have shown that the UVR8 C-terminal region (aa 397-423; UVR8C27) alone is sufficient to regulate the activity of COP1. In this work, CD spectroscopy and NMR experiments showed that the UVR8C27 domain was non-structured but gained secondary structure at higher temperatures leading to increased order. Bias-exchange metadynamics simulations were also performed to evaluate the free energy landscape of UVR8C27. An inverted free energy landscape was revealed, with a disordered structure in the global energy minimum. Flanking the global energy minimum, more structured states were found at higher energies. Furthermore, stabilization of the low energy disordered state was attributed to a proline residue, P411, as evident from P411A mutant data. P411 is also a key residue in UVR8 binding to COP1. UVR8C27 is therefore structurally competent to function as a molecular switch for interaction of UVR8 with different binding partners since at higher free energies different structural conformations are being induced in this peptide. P411 has a key role for this function.
Project description:ConspectusAre all protein interactions fully optimized? Do suboptimal interactions compromise specificity? What is the functional impact of frustration? Why does evolution not optimize some contacts? Proteins and their complexes are best described as ensembles of states populating an energy landscape. These ensembles vary in breadth from narrow ensembles clustered around a single average X-ray structure to broader ensembles encompassing a few different functional "taxonomic" states on to near continua of rapidly interconverting conformations, which are called "fuzzy" or even "intrinsically disordered". Here we aim to provide a comprehensive framework for confronting the structural and dynamical continuum of protein assemblies by combining the concepts of energetic frustration and interaction fuzziness. The diversity of the protein structural ensemble arises from the frustrated conflicts between the interactions that create the energy landscape. When frustration is minimal after folding, it results in a narrow ensemble, but residual frustrated interactions result in fuzzy ensembles, and this fuzziness allows a versatile repertoire of biological interactions. Here we discuss how fuzziness and frustration play off each other as proteins fold and assemble, viewing their significance from energetic, functional, and evolutionary perspectives.We demonstrate, in particular, that the common physical origin of both concepts is related to the ruggedness of the energy landscapes, intramolecular in the case of frustration and intermolecular in the case of fuzziness. Within this framework, we show that alternative sets of suboptimal contacts may encode specificity without achieving a single structural optimum. Thus, we demonstrate that structured complexes may not be optimized, and energetic frustration is realized via different sets of contacts leading to multiplicity of specific complexes. Furthermore, we propose that these suboptimal, frustrated, or fuzzy interactions are under evolutionary selection and expand the biological repertoire by providing a multiplicity of biological activities. In accord, we show that non-native interactions in folding or interaction landscapes can cooperate to generate diverse functional states, which are essential to facilitate adaptation to different cellular conditions. Thus, we propose that not fully optimized structures may actually be beneficial for biological activities of proteins via an alternative set of suboptimal interactions. The importance of such variability has not been recognized across different areas of biology.This account provides a modern view on folding, function, and assembly across the protein universe. The physical framework presented here is applicable to the structure and dynamics continuum of proteins and opens up new perspectives for drug design involving not fully structured, highly dynamic protein assemblies.
Project description:Intrinsically disordered proteins that populate the so-called "Dark Proteome" offer challenging benchmarks of atomistic simulation methods to accurately model conformational transitions on a multidimensional energy landscape. This work explores the application of parallel tempering with implicit solvent models as a computational framework to capture the conformational ensemble of an intrinsically disordered peptide derived from the Ebola virus protein VP35. A recent X-ray crystallographic study reported a protein-peptide interface where the VP35 peptide underwent a folding transition from a disordered form to a helix-?-turn-helix topological fold upon molecular association with the Ebola protein NP. An assessment is provided of the accuracy of two generalized Born solvent models (GBMV2 and GBSW2) using the CHARMM force field and applied with temperature-based replica exchange dynamics to calculate the disorder propensity of the peptide and its probability density of states in a continuum solvent. A further comparison is presented of applying an explicit/implicit solvent hybrid replica exchange simulation of the peptide to determine the effect of modeling water interactions at the all-atom resolution.
Project description:Conformational entropy is expected to contribute significantly to the thermodynamics of structural transitions in intrinsically disordered proteins or regions in response to protein/ligand binding, posttranslational modifications, and environmental changes. We calculated the backbone (dihedral) conformational entropy of oligoglycine (GlyN), a protein backbone mimic and model intrinsically disordered region, as a function of chain length (N=3, 4, 5, 10, and 15) from simulations using three different approaches. The backbone conformational entropy scales linearly with chain length with a slope consistent with the entropy of folding of well-structured proteins. The entropic contributions of second-order dihedral correlations are predominantly through intraresidue ?-? pairs, suggesting that oligoglycine may be thermodynamically modeled as a system of independent glycine residues. We find the backbone conformational entropy to be largely independent of global structural parameters, like the end-to-end distance and radius of gyration. We introduce a framework referred to herein as "ensemble confinement" to estimate the loss (gain) of conformational free energy and its entropic component when individual residues are constrained to (released from) particular regions of the ?-? map. Quantitatively, we show that our protein backbone model resists ordering/folding with a significant, unfavorable ensemble confinement free energy because of the loss of a substantial portion of the absolute backbone entropy. Proteins can couple this free-energy reservoir to distal binding events as a regulatory mechanism to promote or suppress binding.