Protein co-evolution under structural and functional constraints necessitates the preservation of important interactions. Identifying functionally important regions poses many obstacles in protein engineering efforts. In this paper, we present a bioinformatics-inspired approach (residue correlation analysis, RCA) for predicting functionally important domains from protein family sequence data. RCA is comprised of two major steps: (i) identifying pairs of residue positions that mutate in a coordinated manner, and (ii) using these results to identify protein regions that interact with an uncommonly high number of other residues. We hypothesize that strongly correlated pairs result not only from contacting pairs, but also from residues that participate in conformational changes involved during catalysis or important interactions necessary for retaining functionality. The results show that highly mobile loops that assist in ligand association/dissociation tend to exhibit high correlation. RCA results exhibit good agreement with the findings of experimental and molecular dynamics studies for the three protein families that are analyzed: (i) DHFR (dihydrofolate reductase), (ii) cyclophilin, and (iii) formyl-transferase. Specifically, the specificity (percentage of correct predictions) in all three cases is substantially higher than those obtained by entropic measures or contacting residue pairs. In addition, we use our approach in a predictive fashion to identify important regions of a transmembrane amino acid transporter protein for which there is limited structural and functional information available.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology