Characterizing changes in the rate of protein-protein dissociation upon interface mutation using hotspot energy and organization


Predicting the effects of mutations on the kinetic rate constants of protein-protein interactions is central to both the modeling of complex diseases and the design of effective peptide drug inhibitors. However, while most studies have concentrated on the determination of association rate constants, dissociation rates have received less attention. In this work we take a novel approach by relating the changes in dissociation rates upon mutation to the energetics and architecture of hotspots and hotregions, by performing alanine scans pre- and post-mutation. From these scans, we design a set of descriptors that capture the change in hotspot energy and distribution. The method is benchmarked on 713 kinetically characterized mutations from the SKEMPI database. Our investigations show that, with the use of hotspot descriptors, energies from single-point alanine mutations may be used for the estimation of off-rate mutations to any residue type and also multi-point mutations. A number of machine learning models are built from a combination of molecular and hotspot descriptors, with the best models achieving a Pearson's Correlation Coefficient of 0.79 with experimental off-rates and a Matthew's Correlation Coefficient of 0.6 in the detection of rare stabilizing mutations. Using specialized feature selection models we identify descriptors that are highly specific and, conversely, broadly important to predicting the effects of different classes of mutations, interface regions and complexes. Our results also indicate that the distribution of the critical stability regions across protein-protein interfaces is a function of complex size more strongly than interface area. In addition, mutations at the rim are critical for the stability of small complexes, but consistently harder to characterize. The relationship between hotregion size and the dissociation rate is also investigated and, using hotspot descriptors which model cooperative effects within hotregions, we show how the contribution of hotregions of different sizes, changes under different cooperative effects.

Journal details

Volume 9
Issue number 9
Pages e1003216
Publication date


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