Probing the role of backbone hydrogen bonds in protein-peptide interactions by amide-to-ester mutations

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Jonas N N Eildal, Greta Hultqvist, Thomas Balle, Nicolai Stuhr-Hansen, Shahrokh Padrah, Stefano Gianni, Kristian Strømgaard, Per Jemth

One of the most frequent protein-protein interaction modules in mammalian cells is the postsynaptic density 95/discs large/zonula occludens 1 (PDZ) domain, involved in scaffolding and signaling and emerging as an important drug target for several diseases. Like many other protein-protein interactions, those of the PDZ domain family involve formation of intermolecular hydrogen bonds: C-termini or internal linear motifs of proteins bind as β-strands to form an extended antiparallel β-sheet with the PDZ domain. Whereas extensive work has focused on the importance of the amino acid side chains of the protein ligand, the role of the backbone hydrogen bonds in the binding reaction is not known. Using amide-to-ester substitutions to perturb the backbone hydrogen-bonding pattern, we have systematically probed putative backbone hydrogen bonds between four different PDZ domains and peptides corresponding to natural protein ligands. Amide-to-ester mutations of the three C-terminal amides of the peptide ligand severely affected the affinity with the PDZ domain, demonstrating that hydrogen bonds contribute significantly to ligand binding (apparent changes in binding energy, ΔΔG = 1.3 to >3.8 kcal mol(-1)). This decrease in affinity was mainly due to an increase in the dissociation rate constant, but a significant decrease in the association rate constant was found for some amide-to-ester mutations suggesting that native hydrogen bonds have begun to form in the transition state of the binding reaction. This study provides a general framework for studying the role of backbone hydrogen bonds in protein-peptide interactions and for the first time specifically addresses these for PDZ domain-peptide interactions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Volume135
Issue number35
Pages (from-to)12998-3007
Number of pages10
ISSN0002-7863
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2013

ID: 96078999