Refinement of Highly Flexible Protein Structures using Simulation-Guided Spectroscopy

Highly flexible proteins present a special challenge for structure determination because they are multi-structured yet not disordered, so their conformational ensembles are essential for understanding function. Because spectroscopic measurements of multiple conformational populations often provide sparse data, experiment selection is a limiting factor in conformational refinement. A molecular simulations- and information-theory based approach to select which experiments best refine conformational ensembles has been developed. This approach was tested on three flexible proteins. For proteins where a clear mechanistic hypothesis exists, experiments that test this hypothesis were systematically identified. When available data did not yield such mechanistic hypotheses, experiments that significantly outperform structure-guided approaches in conformational refinement were identified. This approach offers a particular advantage when refining challenging, underdetermined protein conformational ensembles.

Hays JM, Kieber MK, Li JZ, Han JI, Columbus L, Kasson PM. Refinement of Highly Flexible Protein Structures using Simulation-Guided Spectroscopy. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 57(52):17110 (2018).