Computational Prediction of Hinge Axes in Proteins


Background: A protein's function is determined by the wide range of motions exhibited by its 3D structure. However, current experimental techniques are not able to reliably provide the level of detail required for elucidating the exact mechanisms of protein motion essential for effective drug screening and design. Computational tools are instrumental in the study of the underlying structure-function relationship. We focus on a special type of proteins called "hinge proteins" which exhibit a motion that can be interpreted as a rotation of one domain relative to another. Results: This work proposes a computational approach that uses the geometric structure of a single conformation to predict the feasible motions of the protein and is founded in recent work from rigidity theory, an area of mathematics that studies flexibility properties of general structures. Given a single conformational state, our analysis predicts a relative axis of motion between two specified domains. We analyze a dataset of 19 structures known to exhibit this hinge-like behavior. For 15, the predicted axis is consistent with a motion to a second, known conformation. We present a detailed case study for three proteins whose dynamics have been well-studied in the literature: calmodulin, the LAO binding protein and the Bence-Jones protein. Conclusions: Our results show that incorporating rigidity-theoretic analyses can lead to effective computational methods for understanding hinge motions in macromolecules. This initial investigation is the first step towards a new tool for probing the structure-dynamics relationship in proteins.



Proteins, Rigidity, Linear Algebra, Calmodulin, Motion


CC BY 4.0 (Attribution), ©2014 The Authors


Shamsuddin, Rittika, Milka Doktorova, Sheila Jaswal, Audrey Lee-St John, et al. 2014. "Computational prediction of hinge axes in proteins." BMC Bioinformatics 15(Suppl. 8): 52.