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Structures and free energy landscapes of the A53T mutant-type α-synuclein protein and impact of A53T mutation on the structures of the wild-type α-synuclein protein with dynamics

Orkid Coskuner, Olivia Wise-Scira
ACS Chemical Neuroscience 2013 July 17, 4 (7): 1101-13
The A53T genetic missense mutation of the wild-type α-synuclein (αS) protein was initially identified in Greek and Italian families with familial Parkinson's disease. Detailed understanding of the structures and the changes induced in the wild-type αS structure by the A53T mutation, as well as establishing the direct relationships between the rapid conformational changes and free energy landscapes of these intrinsically disordered fibrillogenic proteins, helps to enhance our fundamental knowledge and to gain insights into the pathogenic mechanism of Parkinson's disease. We employed extensive parallel tempering molecular dynamics simulations along with thermodynamic calculations to determine the secondary and tertiary structural properties as well as the conformational free energy surfaces of the wild-type and A53T mutant-type αS proteins in an aqueous solution medium using both implicit and explicit water models. The confined aqueous volume effect in the simulations of disordered proteins using an explicit model for water is addressed for a model disordered protein. We also assessed the stabilities of the residual secondary structure component interconversions in αS based on free energy calculations at the atomic level with dynamics using our recently developed theoretical strategy. To the best of our knowledge, this study presents the first detailed comparison of the structural properties linked directly to the conformational free energy landscapes of the monomeric wild-type and A53T mutant-type α-synuclein proteins in an aqueous solution environment. Results demonstrate that the β-sheet structure is significantly more altered than the helical structure upon A53T mutation of the monomeric wild-type αS protein in aqueous solution. The β-sheet content close to the mutation site in the N-terminal region is more abundant while the non-amyloid-β component (NAC) and C-terminal regions show a decrease in β-sheet abundance upon A53T mutation. Obtained results utilizing our new theoretical strategy show that the residual secondary structure conversion stabilities resulting in α-helix formation are not significantly affected by the mutation. Interestingly, the residual secondary structure conversion stabilities show that secondary structure conversions resulting in β-sheet formation are influenced by the A53T mutation and the most stable residual transition yielding β-sheet occurs directly from the coil structure. Long-range interactions detected between the NAC region and the N- or C-terminal regions of the wild-type αS disappear upon A53T mutation. The A53T mutant-type αS structures are thermodynamically more stable than those of the wild-type αS protein structures in aqueous solution. Overall, the higher propensity of the A53T mutant-type αS protein to aggregate in comparison to the wild-type αS protein is related to the increased β-sheet formation and lack of strong intramolecular long-range interactions in the N-terminal region in comparison to its wild-type form. The specific residual secondary structure component stabilities reported herein provide information helpful for designing and synthesizing small organic molecules that can block the β-sheet forming residues, which are reactive toward aggregation.


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