The knowledge of multiple conformational states is a prerequisite to understand the function of membrane transport proteins. Unfortunately, the determination of detailed atomic structures for all these functionally important conformational states with conventional high-resolution approaches is often difficult and unsuccessful. In some cases, biophysical and biochemical approaches can provide important complementary structural information that can be exploited with the help of advanced computational methods to derive structural models of specific conformational states. In particular, functional and spectroscopic measurements in combination with site-directed mutations constitute one important source of information to obtain these mixed-resolution structural models. A very common problem with this strategy, however, is the difficulty to simultaneously integrate all the information from multiple independent experiments involving different mutations or chemical labels to derive a unique structural model consistent with the data. To resolve this issue, a novel restrained molecular dynamics structural refinement method is developed to simultaneously incorporate multiple experimentally determined constraints (e.g., engineered metal bridges or spin-labels), each treated as an individual molecular fragment with all atomic details. The internal structure of each of the molecular fragments is treated realistically, while there is no interaction between different molecular fragments to avoid unphysical steric clashes. The information from all the molecular fragments is exploited simultaneously to constrain the backbone to refine a three-dimensional model of the conformational state of the protein. The method is illustrated by refining the structure of the voltage-sensing domain (VSD) of the Kv1.2 potassium channel in the resting state and by exploring the distance histograms between spin-labels attached to T4 lysozyme. The resulting VSD structures are in good agreement with the consensus model of the resting state VSD and the spin-spin distance histograms from ESR/DEER experiments on T4 lysozyme are accurately reproduced.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Computational Theory and Mathematics