Journal Article

Prediction of the structures of proteins with the UNRES force field, including dynamic formation and breaking of disulfide bonds

Cezary Czaplewski, Stanisław Ołdziej, Adam Liwo and Harold A. Scheraga

in Protein Engineering, Design and Selection

Volume 17, issue 1, pages 29-36
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1741-0126
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1741-0134 | DOI:
Prediction of the structures of proteins with the UNRES force field, including dynamic formation and breaking of disulfide bonds

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The presence of disulfide bonds is essential for maintaining the structure and function of many proteins. The disulfide bonds are usually formed dynamically during folding. This process is not accounted for in present algorithms for protein‐structure prediction, which either deduce the possible positions of disulfide bonds only after the structure is formed or assume fixed disulfide bonds during the course of simulated folding. In this work, the conformational space annealing (CSA) method and the UNRES united‐residue force field were extended to treat dynamic formation of disulfide bonds. A harmonic potential is imposed on the distance between disulfide‐bonded cysteine side‐chain centroids to describe the energetics of bond distortion and an energy gain of 5.5 kcal/mol is added for disulfide‐bond formation. Formation, breaking and rearrangement of disulfide bonds are included in the CSA search by introducing appropriate operations; the search can also be carried out with a fixed disulfide‐bond arrangement. The algorithm was applied to four proteins: 1EI0 (α), 1NKL (α), 1L1I (β‐helix) and 1ED0 (α + β). For 1EI0, a low‐energy structure with correct fold was obtained both in the runs without and with disulfide bonds; however, it was obtained as the lowest in energy only with the native disulfide‐bond arrangement. For the other proteins studied, structures with the correct fold were obtained as the lowest (1NKL and 1L1I) or low‐energy structures (1ED0) only in runs with disulfide bonds, although the final disulfide‐bond arrangement was non‐native. The results demonstrate that, by including the possibility of formation of disulfide bonds, the predictive power of the UNRES force field is enhanced, even though the disulfide‐bond potential introduced here rarely produces disulfide bonds in native positions. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first algorithm for energy‐based prediction of the structure of disulfide‐bonded proteins without any assumption as to the positions of native disulfides or human intervention. Directions for improving the potentials and the search method are suggested.

Keywords: conformational‐space annealing/disulfide bond/global optimization/protein structure prediction/united residue

Journal Article.  6837 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Proteins

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