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Biochemistry. 2003 Mar 18;42(10):2797-805.

Role of electrostatic interactions in PDZ domain ligand recognition.

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  • 1Program in Biological Sciences, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.

Abstract

PDZ domains are protein-protein interaction modules that normally recognize short C-terminal peptides. The apparent requirement for a ligand with a free terminal carboxylate group has led to the proposal that electrostatic interactions with the terminus play a significant role in recognition. However, this model has been called into question by the more recent finding that PDZ domains can recognize some internal peptide motifs that occur within a specific secondary structure context. Although these motifs bind at the same interface, they lack a terminal charge. Here we have investigated the role of electrostatics in PDZ-mediated recognition in the mouse alpha1-syntrophin PDZ domain by examining the salt dependence of binding to both terminal and internal ligands and the effects of mutating a conserved basic residue previously proposed to play a role in electrostatic recognition. These studies indicate that direct electrostatic interactions with the peptide terminus do not play a significant energetic role in binding. Additional chemical modification studies of the peptide terminus support a model in which steric and hydrogen bonding complementarity play a primary role in recognition specificity. Peptides with a free carboxy terminus, or presented within a specific structural context, can satisfy these requirements.

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