National Center for
4KJL: Room Temperature N23pps148a Dhfr
Nat. Methods (2013) 10 p.896-902
Protein function often depends on the exchange between conformational substates. Allosteric ligand binding or distal mutations can stabilize specific active-site conformations and consequently alter protein function. Observing alternative conformations at low levels of electron density, in addition to comparison of independently determined X-ray crystal structures, can provide mechanistic insights into conformational dynamics. Here we report a new algorithm, CONTACT, that identifies contact networks of conformationally heterogeneous residues directly from high-resolution X-ray crystallography data. Contact networks determined for Escherichia coli dihydrofolate reductase (ecDHFR) predict the observed long-range pattern of NMR chemical shift perturbations of an allosteric mutation. A comparison of contact networks in wild-type and mutant ecDHFR suggests that mutations that alter optimized contact networks of coordinated motions can impair catalytic function. CONTACT-guided mutagenesis can exploit the structure-dynamics-function relationship in protein engineering and design.