Computational Alanine Scanning Mutagenesis: MM-PBSA vs TI

Understanding protein-protein association and being able to determine the crucial residues responsible for their association (hot-spots) is a key issue with huge practical applications such as rational drug design and protein engineering. A variety of computational methods exist to detect hot-spots residues, but the development of a fast and accurate quantitative alanine scanning mutagenesis (ASM) continues to be crucial. Using four protein-protein complexes, we have compared a variation of the standard computational ASM protocol developed at our group, based on the Molecular Mechanics/Poisson- Boltzmann Surface Area (MM-PBSA) approach, against Thermodynamic Integration (TI), a well-known and accurate but computationally expensive method. To compare the efficiency and the accuracy of the two methods, we have calculated the protein-protein binding free energy differences upon alanine mutation of interfacial residues (ΔΔGbind). In relation to the experimental ΔΔGbind values, the average error obtained with TI was 1.53 kcal/mol, while the ASM protocol resulted in an average error of 1.18 kcal/mol. The results demonstrate that the much faster ASM protocol gives results at the same level of accuracy as the TI method but at a fraction of the computational time required to run TI. This ASM protocol is therefore a strong and efficient alternative to the systematic evaluation of protein-protein interfaces, involving hundreds of amino acid residues in search of hot-spots. © 2013 American Chemical Society.

Published in:
Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 9, 3, 1311-1319

 Record created 2015-04-22, last modified 2018-03-17

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