A rational free energy-based approach to understanding and targeting disease-causing missense mutations

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Abstract

Background and significance

Intellectual disability is a condition characterized by significant limitations in cognitive abilities and social/behavioral adaptive skills and is an important reason for pediatric, neurologic, and genetic referrals. Approximately 10% of protein-encoding genes on the X chromosome are implicated in intellectual disability, and the corresponding intellectual disability is termed X-linked ID (XLID). Although few mutations and a small number of families have been identified and XLID is rare, collectively the impact of XLID is significant because patients usually are unable to fully participate in society.

Objective

To reveal the molecular mechanisms of various intellectual disabilities and to suggest small molecules which by binding to the malfunctioning protein can reduce unwanted effects.

Methods

Using various in silico methods we reveal the molecular mechanism of XLID in cases involving proteins with known 3D structure. The 3D structures were used to predict the effect of disease-causing missense mutations on the folding free energy, conformational dynamics, hydrogen bond network and, if appropriate, protein-protein binding free energy.

Results

It is shown that the vast majority of XLID mutation sites are outside the active pocket and are accessible from the water phase, thus providing the opportunity to alter their effect by binding appropriate small molecules in the vicinity of the mutation site.

Conclusions

This observation is used to demonstrate, computationally and experimentally, that a particular condition, Snyder-Robinson syndrome caused by the G56S spermine synthase mutation, might be ameliorated by small molecule binding.

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