The HET-s prion-forming domain from the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina is gaining considerable interest since it yielded the first well-defined atomic structure of a functional amyloid fibril. This structure has been identified as a left-handed beta solenoid with a triangular hydrophobic core. To delineate the origins of the HET-s prion-forming protein and to discover other amyloid-forming proteins, we searched for all homologs of the HET-s protein in a database of protein domains and fungal genomes, using a combined application of HMM, psi-blast and pGenThreader techniques, and performed a comparative evolutionary analysis of the N-terminal alpha-helical domain and the C-terminal prion-forming domain of HET-s. By assessing the tandem evolution of both domains, we observed that the prion-forming domain is restricted to Sordariomycetes, with a marginal additional sequence homolog in Arthroderma otae as a likely case of horizontal transfer. This suggests innovation and rapid evolution of the solenoid fold in the Sordariomycetes clade. In contrast, the N-terminal domain evolves at a slower rate (in Sordariomycetes) and spans many diverse clades of fungi. We performed a full three-dimensional protein threading analysis on all identified HET-s homologs against the HET-s solenoid fold, and present detailed structural annotations for identified structural homologs to the prion-forming domain. An analysis of the physicochemical characteristics in our set of structural models indicates that the HET-s solenoid shape can be readily adopted in these homologs, but that they are all less optimized for fibril formation than the P. anserina HET-s sequence itself, due chiefly to the presence of fewer asparagine ladders and salt bridges. Our combined structural and evolutionary analysis suggests that the HET-s shape has "limited scope" for amyloidosis across the wider protein universe, compared to the generic left-handed beta helix. We discuss the implications of our findings on future identification of amyloid-forming proteins sharing the solenoid fold.
Identification of ambiguous encoding in protein secondary structure is paramount to develop an understanding of key protein segments underlying amyloid diseases. We investigate two types of structurally ambivalent peptides, which were hypothesized in the literature as indicators of amyloidogenic proteins: discordant ?-helices and chameleon sequences. Chameleon sequences are peptides discovered experimentally in different secondary-structure types. Discordant ?-helices are ?-helical stretches with strong ?-strand propensity or prediction. To assess the distribution of these features in known protein structures, and their potential role in amyloidogenesis, we analyzed the occurrence of discordant ?-helices and chameleon sequences in nonredundant sets of protein domains (n = 4263) and amyloidogenic proteins extracted from the literature (n = 77). Discordant ?-helices were identified if discordance was observed between known secondary structures and secondary-structure predictions from the GOR-IV and PSIPRED algorithms. Chameleon sequences were extracted by searching for identical sequence words in ?-helices and ?-strands. We defined frustrated chameleons and very frustrated chameleons based on varying degrees of total ? propensity ?? propensity. To our knowledge, this is the first study to discern statistical relationships between discordance, chameleons, and amyloidogenicity. We observed varying enrichment levels for some categories of discordant and chameleon sequences in amyloidogenic sequences. Chameleon sequences are also significantly enriched in proteins that have discordant helices, indicating a clear link between both phenomena. We identified the first set of discordant-chameleonic protein segments we predict may be involved in amyloidosis. We present a detailed analysis of discordant and chameleons segments in the family of one of the amyloidogenic proteins, the Prion Protein.
Prions are units of propagation of an altered state of a protein or proteins; prions can propagate from organism to organism, through cooption of other protein copies. Prions contain no necessary nucleic acids, and are important both as both pathogenic agents, and as a potential force in epigenetic phenomena. The original prions were derived from a misfolded form of the mammalian Prion Protein PrP. Infection by these prions causes neurodegenerative diseases. Other prions cause non-Mendelian inheritance in budding yeast, and sometimes act as diseases of yeast. We report the bioinformatic construction of the PrionHome, a database of >2000 prion-related sequences. The data was collated from various public and private resources and filtered for redundancy. The data was then processed according to a transparent classification system of prionogenic sequences (i.e., sequences that can make prions), prionoids (i.e., proteins that propagate like prions between individual cells), and other prion-related phenomena. There are eight PrionHome classifications for sequences. The first four classifications are derived from experimental observations: prionogenic sequences, prionoids, other prion-related phenomena, and prion interactors. The second four classifications are derived from sequence analysis: orthologs, paralogs, pseudogenes, and candidate-prionogenic sequences. Database entries list: supporting information for PrionHome classifications, prion-determinant areas (where relevant), and disordered and compositionally-biased regions. Also included are literature references for the PrionHome classifications, transcripts and genomic coordinates, and structural data (including comparative models made for the PrionHome from manually curated alignments). We provide database usage examples for both vertebrate and fungal prion contexts. Using the database data, we have performed a detailed analysis of the compositional biases in known budding-yeast prionogenic sequences, showing that the only abundant bias pattern is for asparagine bias with subsidiary serine bias. We anticipate that this database will be a useful experimental aid and reference resource. It is freely available at: http://libaio.biol.mcgill.ca/prion.
Prion Proteins (PrP) are among a small number of proteins for which large numbers of NMR ensembles have been resolved for sequence mutants and diverse species. Here, we perform a comprehensive principle components analysis (PCA) on the tertiary structures of PrP globular proteins to discern PrP subdomains that exhibit conformational change in response to point mutations and clade-specific evolutionary sequence mutation trends. This is to our knowledge the first such large-scale analysis of multiple NMR ensembles of protein structures, and the first study of its kind for PrPs. We conducted PCA on human (n?=?11), mouse (n?=?14), and wildtype (n?=?21) sets of PrP globular structures, from which we identified five conformationally variable subdomains within PrP. PCA shows that different non-local patterns and rankings of variable subdomains arise for different pathogenic mutants. These subdomains may thus be key areas for initiating PrP conversion during disease. Furthermore, we have observed the conformational clustering of divergent TSE-non-susceptible species pairs; these non-phylogenetic clusterings indicate structural solutions towards TSE resistance that do not necessarily coincide with evolutionary divergence. We discuss the novelty of our approach and the importance of PrP subdomains in structural conversion during disease.
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