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Towards the in silico reconstruction of protein interaction networks : identification of DNA- and RNA-protein interfaces, and construction of a database of multiple interactions of proteins

  • Corsi, Flavia
Publication Date
Feb 20, 2019
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This thesis focuses on the characterization and prediction of DNA- and RNA-binding sites on protein structures, with some comparisons with protein-protein ones. We compiled and manually curated a non-redundant and representative set of 187 high resolution protein-DNA complexes, with the available 82 protein unbound conformations, that could be used as a reference benchmark. We conducted a comprehensive analysis of sequence- and structure-based properties of protein-DNA/RNA interfaces and compared them with respect to protein-protein interfaces and to non-interacting protein regions. We developed JET2DNA and JET2RNA, new methods for predicting DNA- and RNA-binding sites on protein surfaces. Combining four biologically meaningful descriptors, they outperform other machine-learning methods, in terms of predictive power and robustness to conformational changes. Our tools demonstrated to be instrumental in discovering alternative DNA/RNA-binding sites and in deciphering their properties. This could be very helpful for drug design and repurposing. To give a comprehensive view of plasticity of DNA-binding proteins and structural information on their multiple interactions, we constructed the Protein-(Protein)-DNA database (P(P)DNAdb). It comprises the 187 protein-DNA complexes in our benchmark, protein unbound forms and structures of other complexes where the proteins, or closed homologs, were in contact with other proteins. The user can access properties of the interfaces, visualize conformational changes associated to the binding of different partners and the location of the DNA-binding residues on the unbound structures and on the complexes with the other protein partners.

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