Methods for analysing correlated mutations in proteins are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for predicting contacts within and between proteins. Nevertheless, limitations remain due to the requirement for large multiple sequence alignments (MSA) and the fact that, in general, only the relatively small number of top-ranking predictions are reliable. To date, methods for analysing correlated mutations have relied exclusively on amino acid MSAs as inputs. Here, we describe a new approach for analysing correlated mutations that is based on combined analysis of amino acid and codon MSAs. We show that a direct contact is more likely to be present when the correlation between the positions is strong at the amino acid level but weak at the codon level. The performance of different methods for analysing correlated mutations in predicting contacts is shown to be enhanced significantly when amino acid and codon data are combined.
- Michael Levitt, Stanford University, United States
© 2015, Jacob et al.
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Doublecortin (DCX) is a microtubule (MT)-associated protein that regulates MT structure and function during neuronal development and mutations in DCX lead to a spectrum of neurological disorders. The structural properties of MT-bound DCX that explain these disorders are incompletely determined. Here, we describe the molecular architecture of the DCX–MT complex through an integrative modeling approach that combines data from X-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, and a high-fidelity chemical crosslinking method. We demonstrate that DCX interacts with MTs through its N-terminal domain and induces a lattice-dependent self-association involving the C-terminal structured domain and its disordered tail, in a conformation that favors an open, domain-swapped state. The networked state can accommodate multiple different attachment points on the MT lattice, all of which orient the C-terminal tails away from the lattice. As numerous disease mutations cluster in the C-terminus, and regulatory phosphorylations cluster in its tail, our study shows that lattice-driven self-assembly is an important property of DCX.
Lipid droplets (LDs) are organelles formed in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to store triacylglycerol (TG) and sterol esters. The ER protein seipin is key for LD biogenesis. Seipin forms a cage-like structure, with each seipin monomer containing a conserved hydrophobic helix and two transmembrane (TM) segments. How the different parts of seipin function in TG nucleation and LD budding is poorly understood. Here, we utilized molecular dynamics simulations of human seipin, along with cell-based experiments, to study seipin’s functions in protein–lipid interactions, lipid diffusion, and LD maturation. An all-atom simulation indicates that seipin TM segment residues and hydrophobic helices residues located in the phospholipid tail region of the bilayer attract TG. Simulating larger, growing LDs with coarse-grained models, we find that the seipin TM segments form a constricted neck structure to facilitate conversion of a flat oil lens into a budding LD. Using cell experiments and simulations, we also show that conserved, positively charged residues at the end of seipin’s TM segments affect LD maturation. We propose a model in which seipin TM segments critically function in TG nucleation and LD growth.