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Publication - Professor Dek Woolfson

    Predicting and Experimentally Validating Hot-spot Residues at Protein-Protein Interfaces


    Ibarra, AA, Bartlett, GJ, Hegedüs, Z, Dutt, S, Hobor, F, Horner, KA, Hetherington, K, Spence, K, Nelson, A, Edwards, TA, Woolfson, DN, Sessions, RB & Wilson, AJ, 2019, ‘Predicting and Experimentally Validating Hot-spot Residues at Protein-Protein Interfaces’. ACS Chemical Biology.


    Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are vital to all biological processes. These interactions are often dynamic, sometimes transient, typically occur over large topographically shallow protein surfaces, and can exhibit a broad range of affinities. Considerable progress has been made in determining PPI structures. However, given the above properties, understanding the key determinants of their thermodynamic stability remains a challenge in chemical biology. An improved ability to identify and engineer PPIs would advance understanding of biological mechanisms and mutant phenotypes, and also, provide a firmer foundation for inhibitor design. In silico prediction of PPI hot-spot amino acids using computational alanine scanning (CAS) offers a rapid approach for predicting key residues that drive protein-protein association. This can be applied to all known PPI structures, however there is a trade-off between throughput and accuracy. Here we describe a comparative analysis of multiple CAS methods, which highlights effective approaches to improve the accuracy of predicting hot-spot residues. Alongside this, we introduce a new method, BUDE Alanine Scanning, which can be applied to single structures from crystallography, and to structural ensembles from NMR or molecular dynamics data. The comparative analyses facilitate accurate prediction of hot-spots that we validate experimentally with three diverse targets: NOXA-B/MCL-1 (an α helix-mediated PPI), SIMS/SUMO and GKAP/SHANK-PDZ (both β strand-mediated interactions). Finally, the approach is applied to the accurate prediction of hot-residues at a topographically novel Affimer/BCL-xL protein-protein interface.

    Full details in the University publications repository