Construction of new ligand binding sites in proteins of known structure. I. Computer-aided modeling of sites with pre-defined geometry.
We have devised a molecular model building computer program (DEZYMER) which builds new ligand binding sites into a protein of known three-dimensional structure. It alters only the sequence and the side-chain structure of the protein, leaving the protein backbone fold intact by definition. The program searches for a constellation of backbone positions arranged such that if appropriate side-chains were placed there, they would bind the ligand according to a pre-defined geometry of interaction specified by the experimentalist. These binding sites are introduced by the program by taking into account simple rules such as steric hindrance, atomic close-packing and hydrogen bond patterns, which are known to maintain the integrity of a protein structure to a first approximation. A test case is presented in this paper where the copper binding site found in blue-copper proteins such as plastocyanin, azurin and cupredoxin is introduced into Escherichia coli thioredoxin. The model building of one of the solutions found by the program is presented in some detail. The experimental construction and properties of this new protein are described in an accompanying paper. It is hoped that this program provides a general method for the design of ligand binding sites and enzyme active sites, which can then be tested experimentally.
Hellinga, HW; Richards, FM
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