Abstract: Here we describe the development of an improved workflow for utilizing experimental and simulated protein conformations in the structure-based design of inhibitors for anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. Traditional structure-based approaches on similar targets are often constrained by the sparsity of available structures and difficulties in finding lead compounds that dock against flat, flexible protein-protein interaction surfaces. By employing computational docking of known small molecule inhibitors, we have demonstrated that structural ensembles derived from either accelerated MD (aMD) or MD in the presence of an organic cosolvent generally give better scores than those assessed from analogous conventional MD. Furthermore, conformations obtained from combined cosolvent aMD simulations started with the apo-Bcl-xL structure yielded better average and minimum docking scores for known binders than an ensemble of 72 experimental apo- and ligand-bound Bcl-xL structures. A detailed analysis of the simulated conformations indicates that the aMD effectively enhanced conformational sampling of the flexible helices flanking the main Bcl-xL binding groove, permitting the cosolvent acting as small ligands to penetrate more deeply into the binding pocket and shape ligand-bound conformations not evident in conventional simulations. We believe this approach could be useful for identifying inhibitors against other protein-protein interaction systems involving highly flexible binding sites, particularly for targets with less accumulated structural data.
Abstract: While the number of solved 3D protein structures continues to grow rapidly, the structural rules that distinguish protein-protein interactions between different structural families are still not clear. Here, we classify and analyse the secondary structural features and promiscuity of a comprehensive non-redundant set of domain family binding sites (DFBSs) and hetero domain-domain interactions (DDIs) extracted from our updated KBDOCK resource. We have partitioned 4001 DFBSs into five classes using their propensities for three types of secondary structural elements (“α” for helices, “β” for strands, and “γ” for irregular structure) and we have analysed how frequently these classes occur in DDIs. Our results show that β elements are not highly represented in DFBSs compared to α and γ elements. At the DDI level, all classes of binding sites tend to preferentially bind to the same class of binding sites and α/β contacts are significantly disfavored. Very few DFBSs are promiscuous: 80% of them interact with just one Pfam domain. About 50% of our Pfam domains bear only one single-partner DFBS and are therefore monogamous in their interactions with other domains. Conversely, promiscuous Pfam domains bear several DFBSs among which one or two are promiscuous, thereby multiplying the promiscuity of the concerned protein.
Abstract: Omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 and n-3 PUFA) can modulate inflammatory processes. In western diets, the content of n-6 PUFA is much higher than that of n-3 PUFA, which has been suggested to promote a pro-inflammatory phenotype. The aim of this study was to analyze the effect of modulating the n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio on the formation of monohydroxylated fatty acid (HO-FAs) derived from the n-6 PUFA arachidonic acid (AA) and the n-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in THP-1 macrophages by means of LC-MS. Lipid metabolites were measured in THP-1 macrophage cell pellets. The concentration of AA-derived hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETEs) was not significantly changed when incubated THP-1 macrophages in a high AA/(EPA+DHA) ratio of 19/1 vs. a low ratio AA/(EPA+DHA) of 1/1 (950.6 ± 110 ng/mg vs. 648.2 ± 92.4 ng/mg, p = 0.103). Correspondingly, the concentration of EPA-derived hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acids (HEPEs) and DHA-derived hydroxydocosahexaenoic acids (HDHAs) were significantly increased (63.9 ± 7.8 ng/mg vs. 434.4 ± 84.3 ng/mg, p = 0.012 and 84.9 ± 18.3 ng/mg vs. 439.4 ± 82.7 ng/mg, p = 0.014, respectively). Most notable was the strong increase of 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE) formation in THP-1 macrophages, with levels of 170.9 ± 40.2 ng/mg protein in the high n-3 PUFA treated cells. Thus our data indicate that THP-1 macrophages prominently utilize EPA and DHA for monohydroxylated metabolite formation, in particular 18-HEPE, which has been shown to be released by macrophages to prevent pressure overload-induced maladaptive cardiac remodeling.
Abstract: A decline in long-term memory (LTM) formation is a common feature of the normal aging process, which corresponds with abnormal expression of memory-related genes in the aged hippocampus. Epigenetic modulation of chromatin structure is required for proper transcriptional control of genes, such as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) and Zif268 in the hippocampus during the consolidation of new memories. Recently, the view has emerged that aberrant transcriptional regulation of memory-related genes may be reflective of an altered epigenetic landscape within the aged hippocampus, resulting in memory deficits with aging. Here, we found that baseline resting levels for tri-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) and acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 and 14 (H3K9,K14ac) were altered in the aged hippocampus as compared to levels in the hippocampus of young adult rats. Interestingly, object learning failed to increase activity-dependent H3K4me3 and di-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me2) levels in the hippocampus of aged adults as compared to young adults. Treatment with the LSD-1 histone demethylase inhibitor, t-PCP, increased baseline resting H3K4me3 and H3K9,K14ac levels in the young adult hippocampus, while young adult rats exhibited similar memory deficits as observed in aged rats. After environmental enrichment (EE), we found that object learning induced increases in H3K4me3 levels around the Bdnf, but not the Zif268,gene region in the aged hippocampus and rescued memory deficits in aged adults. Collectively, these results suggest that histone lysine methylation levels are abnormally regulated in the aged hippocampus and identify histone lysine methylation as a transcriptional mechanism by which EE may serve to restore memory formation with aging.
Abstract: Protein-protein docking (PPD) predictions usually rely on the use of a scoring function to rank docking models generated by exhaustive sampling. To rank good models higher than bad ones, a large number of scoring functions have been developed and evaluated, but the methods used for the computation of PPD predictions remain largely unsatisfactory. Here, we report a network-based PPD scoring function, the NPPD, in which the network consists of two types of network nodes, one for hydrophobic and the other for hydrophilic amino acid residues, and the nodes are connected when the residues they represent are within a certain contact distance. We showed that network parameters that compute dyadic interactions and those that compute heterophilic interactions of the amino acid networks thus constructed allowed NPPD to perform well in a benchmark evaluation of 115 PPD scoring functions, most of which, unlike NPPD, are based on some sort of protein-protein interaction energy. We also showed that NPPD was highly complementary to these energy-based scoring functions, suggesting that the combined use of conventional scoring functions and NPPD might significantly improve the accuracy of current PPD predictions.
Abstract: The origin of the eukaryotic endomembrane system is still the subject of much speculation. We argue that the combination of two recent hypotheses addressing the eukaryotic endomembrane’s early evolution supports the possibility that the ancestral membranes were organised as a multi-functional tubulovesicular network. One of the potential selective advantages provided by this organisation was the capacity to perform endocytosis. This possibility is illustrated by membrane organisations observed in current organisms in the three domains of life. Based on this, we propose a coherent model of autogenous eukaryotic endomembrane system evolution in which mitochondria are involved at a late stage.