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Visualization of variable binding pockets on protein surfaces by probabilistic analysis of related structure sets

Ashford, Paul and Moss, David S. and Alex, A. and Yeap, S.K. and Povia, Alice and Nobeli, Irilenia and Williams, Mark A. (2012) Visualization of variable binding pockets on protein surfaces by probabilistic analysis of related structure sets. BMC Bioinformatics 13 , p. 39. ISSN 1471-2105.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2105-13-39

Abstract

Background: Protein structures provide a valuable resource for rational drug design. For a protein with no known ligand, computational tools can predict surface pockets that are of suitable size and shape to accommodate a complementary small-molecule drug. However, pocket prediction against single static structures may miss features of pockets that arise from proteins’ dynamic behaviour. In particular, ligand-binding conformations can be observed as transiently populated states of the apo protein, so it is possible to gain insight into ligand-bound forms by considering conformational variation in apo proteins. This variation can be explored by considering sets of related structures: computationally generated conformers, solution NMR ensembles, multiple crystal structures, homologues or homology models. It is non-trivial to compare pockets, either from different programs or across sets of structures. For a single structure, difficulties arise in defining particular pocket’s boundaries. For a set of conformationally distinct structures the challenge is how to make reasonable comparisons between them given that a perfect structural alignment is not possible. Results: We have developed a computational method, Provar, that provides a consistent representation of predicted binding pockets across sets of related protein structures. The outputs are probabilities that each atom or residue of the protein borders a predicted pocket. These probabilities can be readily visualised on a protein using existing molecular graphics software. We show how Provar simplifies comparison of the outputs of different pocket prediction algorithms, of pockets across multiple simulated conformations and between homologous structures. We demonstrate the benefits of use of multiple structures for protein-ligand and protein-protein interface analysis on a set of complexes and consider three case studies in detail: i) analysis of a kinase superfamily highlights the conserved occurrence of surface pockets at the active and regulatory sites ii) a simulated ensemble of unliganded Bcl2 structures reveals extensions of a known ligand-binding pocket not apparent in the apo crystal structure; iii) visualisations of interleukin-2 and its homologues highlight conserved pockets at the known receptor interfaces and regions whose conformation is known to change on inhibitor binding. Conclusions: Through post-processing of the output of a variety of pocket prediction software, Provar provides a flexible approach to the analysis and visualization of the persistence or variability of pockets in sets of related protein structures.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Mark A. Williams
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2012 09:35
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2013 12:42
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5657

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