Conservation analysis and decomposition of residue correlation networks in the phospholipase A2 superfamily (PLA2s): Insights into the structure-function relationships of snake venom toxins

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Abstract

Phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) comprise a superfamily of glycerophospholipids hydrolyzing enzymes present in many organisms in nature, whose catalytic activity was majorly unveiled by analysis of snake venoms. The latter have pharmaceutical and biotechnological interests and can be divided into different functional sub-classes. Our goal was to identify important residues and their relation to the functional and class-specific characteristics in the PLA2s family with special emphasis on snake venom PLA2s (svPLA2s). We identified such residues by conservation analysis and decomposition of residue coevolution networks (DRCN), annotated the results based on the available literature on PLA2s, structural analysis and molecular dynamics simulations, and related the results to the phylogenetic distribution of these proteins. A filtered alignment of PLA2s revealed 14 highly conserved positions and 3 sets of coevolved residues, which were annotated according to their structural or functional role. These residues are mostly involved in ligand binding and catalysis, calcium-binding, the formation of disulfide bridges and a hydrophobic cluster close to the binding site. An independent validation of the inference of structure-function relationships from our co-evolution analysis on the svPLA2s family was obtained by the analysis of the pattern of selection acting on the Viperidae and Elapidae lineages. Additionally, a molecular dynamics simulation on the Lys49 PLA2 from Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus was carried out to further investigate the correlation of the Lys49-Glu69 pair. Our results suggest this configuration can result in a novel conformation where the binding cavity collapses due to the approximation of two loops caused by a strong salt bridge between Glu69 and Arg34. Finally, phylogenetic analysis indicated a correlation between the presence of residues in the coevolved sets found in this analysis and the clade localization. The results provide a guide for important positions in the family of PLA2s, and potential new objects of investigation.

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