A Simple PB/LIE Free Energy Function Accurately Predicts the Peptide Binding Specificity of the Tiam1 PDZ Domain

Abstract : PDZ domains generally bind short amino acid sequences at the C-terminus of target proteins, and short peptides can be used as inhibitors or model ligands. Here, we used experimental binding assays and molecular dynamics simulations to characterize 51 complexes involving the Tiam1 PDZ domain and to test the performance of a semi-empirical free energy function. The free energy function combined a Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) continuum electrostatic term, a van der Waals interaction energy, and a surface area term. Each term was empirically weighted, giving a Linear Interaction Energy or "PB/LIE" free energy. The model yielded a mean unsigned deviation of 0.43 kcal/mol and a Pearson correlation of 0.64 between experimental and computed free energies, which was superior to a Null model that assumes all complexes have the same affinity. Analyses of the models support several experimental observations that indicate the orientation of the α 2 helix is a critical determinant for peptide specificity. The models were also used to predict binding free energies for nine new variants, corresponding to point mutants of the Syndecan1 and Caspr4 peptides. The predictions did not reveal improved binding; however, they suggest that an unnatural amino acid could be used to increase protease resistance and peptide lifetimes in vivo. The overall performance of the model should allow its use in the design of new PDZ ligands in the future.
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Nicolas Panel, Young Sun, Ernesto Fuentes, Thomas Simonson. A Simple PB/LIE Free Energy Function Accurately Predicts the Peptide Binding Specificity of the Tiam1 PDZ Domain. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, Frontiers Media, 2017, 4, ⟨10.3389/fmolb.2017.00065⟩. ⟨hal-01961715⟩

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