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PLoS Comput Biol. 2012;8(5):e1002505. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002505. Epub 2012 May 17.

Insights into the fold organization of TIM barrel from interaction energy based structure networks.

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Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.


There are many well-known examples of proteins with low sequence similarity, adopting the same structural fold. This aspect of sequence-structure relationship has been extensively studied both experimentally and theoretically, however with limited success. Most of the studies consider remote homology or "sequence conservation" as the basis for their understanding. Recently "interaction energy" based network formalism (Protein Energy Networks (PENs)) was developed to understand the determinants of protein structures. In this paper we have used these PENs to investigate the common non-covalent interactions and their collective features which stabilize the TIM barrel fold. We have also developed a method of aligning PENs in order to understand the spatial conservation of interactions in the fold. We have identified key common interactions responsible for the conservation of the TIM fold, despite high sequence dissimilarity. For instance, the central beta barrel of the TIM fold is stabilized by long-range high energy electrostatic interactions and low-energy contiguous vdW interactions in certain families. The other interfaces like the helix-sheet or the helix-helix seem to be devoid of any high energy conserved interactions. Conserved interactions in the loop regions around the catalytic site of the TIM fold have also been identified, pointing out their significance in both structural and functional evolution. Based on these investigations, we have developed a novel network based phylogenetic analysis for remote homologues, which can perform better than sequence based phylogeny. Such an analysis is more meaningful from both structural and functional evolutionary perspective. We believe that the information obtained through the "interaction conservation" viewpoint and the subsequently developed method of structure network alignment, can shed new light in the fields of fold organization and de novo computational protein design.

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