Electrostatic Clustering and Free Energy Calculations Provide a Foundation for Protein Design and Optimization

Gorham, Ronald; Kieslich, Chris; Morikis, Dimitrios
April 2011
Annals of Biomedical Engineering;Apr2011, Vol. 39 Issue 4, p1252
Academic Journal
Electrostatic interactions are ubiquitous in proteins and dictate stability and function. In this review, we discuss several methods for the analysis of electrostatics in protein-protein interactions. We discuss alanine-scanning mutagenesis, Poisson-Boltzmann electrostatics, free energy calculations, electrostatic similarity distances, and hierarchical clustering of electrostatic potentials. Our recently developed computational framework, known as Analysis of Electrostatic Similarities Of Proteins (AESOP), incorporates these tools to efficiently elucidate the role of electrostatic potentials in protein interactions. We present the application of AESOP to several proteins and protein complexes, for which charge is purported to facilitate protein association. Specifically, we illustrate how recent work has shaped the formulation of electrostatic calculations, the correlation of electrostatic free energies and electrostatic potential clustering results with experimental binding and activity data, the pH dependence of protein stability and association, the design of mutant proteins with enhanced immunological activity, and how AESOP can expose deficiencies in structural models and experimental data. This integrative approach can be utilized to develop mechanistic models and to guide experimental studies by predicting mutations with desired physicochemical properties and function. Alteration of the electrostatic properties of proteins offers a basis for the design of proteins with optimized binding and activity.


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