Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Sequence grammar underlying the unfolding and phase separation of globular proteins
    Ruff, KM ; Choi, YH ; Cox, D ; Ormsby, AR ; Myung, Y ; Ascher, DB ; Radford, SE ; V. Pappu, R ; Hatters, DM (CELL PRESS, 2022-09-01)
    Aberrant phase separation of globular proteins is associated with many diseases. Here, we use a model protein system to understand how the unfolded states of globular proteins drive phase separation and the formation of unfolded protein deposits (UPODs). We find that for UPODs to form, the concentrations of unfolded molecules must be above a threshold value. Additionally, unfolded molecules must possess appropriate sequence grammars to drive phase separation. While UPODs recruit molecular chaperones, their compositional profiles are also influenced by synergistic physicochemical interactions governed by the sequence grammars of unfolded proteins and cellular proteins. Overall, the driving forces for phase separation and the compositional profiles of UPODs are governed by the sequence grammars of unfolded proteins. Our studies highlight the need for uncovering the sequence grammars of unfolded proteins that drive UPOD formation and cause gain-of-function interactions whereby proteins are aberrantly recruited into UPODs.
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    mmCSM-NA: accurately predicting effects of single and multiple mutations on protein nucleic acid binding affinity
    Thanh, BN ; Myung, Y ; de Sa, AGC ; Pires, DE ; Ascher, DB (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-11-17)
    While protein-nucleic acid interactions are pivotal for many crucial biological processes, limited experimental data has made the development of computational approaches to characterise these interactions a challenge. Consequently, most approaches to understand the effects of missense mutations on protein-nucleic acid affinity have focused on single-point mutations and have presented a limited performance on independent data sets. To overcome this, we have curated the largest dataset of experimentally measured effects of mutations on nucleic acid binding affinity to date, encompassing 856 single-point mutations and 141 multiple-point mutations across 155 experimentally solved complexes. This was used in combination with an optimized version of our graph-based signatures to develop mmCSM-NA (http://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/mmcsm_na), the first scalable method capable of quantitatively and accurately predicting the effects of multiple-point mutations on nucleic acid binding affinities. mmCSM-NA obtained a Pearson's correlation of up to 0.67 (RMSE of 1.06 Kcal/mol) on single-point mutations under cross-validation, and up to 0.65 on independent non-redundant datasets of multiple-point mutations (RMSE of 1.12 kcal/mol), outperforming similar tools. mmCSM-NA is freely available as an easy-to-use web-server and API. We believe it will be an invaluable tool to shed light on the role of mutations affecting protein-nucleic acid interactions in diseases.
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    Mercury methylation by metabolically versatile and cosmopolitan marine bacteria
    Lin, H ; Ascher, DB ; Myung, Y ; Lamborg, CH ; Hallam, SJ ; Gionfriddo, CM ; Holt, KE ; Moreau, JW (SPRINGERNATURE, 2021-01-27)
    Microbes transform aqueous mercury (Hg) into methylmercury (MeHg), a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in terrestrial and marine food webs, with potential impacts on human health. This process requires the gene pair hgcAB, which encodes for proteins that actuate Hg methylation, and has been well described for anoxic environments. However, recent studies report potential MeHg formation in suboxic seawater, although the microorganisms involved remain poorly understood. In this study, we conducted large-scale multi-omic analyses to search for putative microbial Hg methylators along defined redox gradients in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, a model natural ecosystem with previously measured Hg and MeHg concentration profiles. Analysis of gene expression profiles along the redoxcline identified several putative Hg methylating microbial groups, including Calditrichaeota, SAR324 and Marinimicrobia, with the last the most active based on hgc transcription levels. Marinimicrobia hgc genes were identified from multiple publicly available marine metagenomes, consistent with a potential key role in marine Hg methylation. Computational homology modelling predicts that Marinimicrobia HgcAB proteins contain the highly conserved amino acid sites and folding structures required for functional Hg methylation. Furthermore, a number of terminal oxidases from aerobic respiratory chains were associated with several putative novel Hg methylators. Our findings thus reveal potential novel marine Hg-methylating microorganisms with a greater oxygen tolerance and broader habitat range than previously recognized.
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    Exploring the structural distribution of genetic variation in SARS-CoV-2 with the COVID-3D online resource (vol 52, pg 999, 2020)
    Portelli, S ; Olshansky, M ; Rodrigues, CHM ; D'Souza, EN ; Myung, Y ; Silk, M ; Alavi, A ; Pires, DEV ; Ascher, DB (NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-01-04)
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    COVID-3D: An online resource to explore the structural distribution of genetic variation in SARS-CoV-2 and its implication on therapeutic development
    Portelli, S ; Olshansky, M ; Rodrigues, CHM ; D’Souza, E ; Myung, Y ; Silk, M ; Alavi, A ; Pires, DEV ; Ascher, D (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2020)

    SUMMARY

    The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a global rush to uncover basic biological mechanisms, to inform effective vaccine and drug development. Despite viral novelty, global sequencing efforts have already identified genomic variation across isolates. To enable easy exploration and spatial visualization of the potential implications of SARS-CoV-2 mutations on infection, host immunity and drug development we have developed COVID-3D ( http://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/covid3d/ ).
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    Prediction of rifampicin resistance beyond the RRDR using structure-based machine learning approaches.
    Portelli, S ; Myung, Y ; Furnham, N ; Vedithi, SC ; Pires, DEV ; Ascher, DB (Nature Publishing Group, 2020-10-22)
    Rifampicin resistance is a major therapeutic challenge, particularly in tuberculosis, leprosy, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus infections, where it develops via missense mutations in gene rpoB. Previously we have highlighted that these mutations reduce protein affinities within the RNA polymerase complex, subsequently reducing nucleic acid affinity. Here, we have used these insights to develop a computational rifampicin resistance predictor capable of identifying resistant mutations even outside the well-defined rifampicin resistance determining region (RRDR), using clinical M. tuberculosis sequencing information. Our tool successfully identified up to 90.9% of M. tuberculosis rpoB variants correctly, with sensitivity of 92.2%, specificity of 83.6% and MCC of 0.69, outperforming the current gold-standard GeneXpert-MTB/RIF. We show our model can be translated to other clinically relevant organisms: M. leprae, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus, despite weak sequence identity. Our method was implemented as an interactive tool, SUSPECT-RIF (StrUctural Susceptibility PrEdiCTion for RIFampicin), freely available at https://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/suspect_rif/ .
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    mmCSM-AB: guiding rational antibody engineering through multiple point mutations
    Myung, Y ; Pires, DE ; Ascher, DB (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2020-07-02)
    While antibodies are becoming an increasingly important therapeutic class, especially in personalized medicine, their development and optimization has been largely through experimental exploration. While there have been many efforts to develop computational tools to guide rational antibody engineering, most approaches are of limited accuracy when applied to antibody design, and have largely been limited to analysing a single point mutation at a time. To overcome this gap, we have curated a dataset of 242 experimentally determined changes in binding affinity upon multiple point mutations in antibody-target complexes (89 increasing and 153 decreasing binding affinity). Here, we have shown that by using our graph-based signatures and atomic interaction information, we can accurately analyse the consequence of multi-point mutations on antigen binding affinity. Our approach outperformed other available tools across cross-validation and two independent blind tests, achieving Pearson's correlations of up to 0.95. We have implemented our new approach, mmCSM-AB, as a web-server that can help guide the process of affinity maturation in antibody design. mmCSM-AB is freely available at http://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/mmcsm_ab/.
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    mCSM-PPI2: predicting the effects of mutations on protein-protein interactions
    Rodrigues, CHM ; Myung, Y ; Pires, DEV ; Ascher, DB (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2019-07-02)
    Protein-protein Interactions are involved in most fundamental biological processes, with disease causing mutations enriched at their interfaces. Here we present mCSM-PPI2, a novel machine learning computational tool designed to more accurately predict the effects of missense mutations on protein-protein interaction binding affinity. mCSM-PPI2 uses graph-based structural signatures to model effects of variations on the inter-residue interaction network, evolutionary information, complex network metrics and energetic terms to generate an optimised predictor. We demonstrate that our method outperforms previous methods, ranking first among 26 others on CAPRI blind tests. mCSM-PPI2 is freely available as a user friendly webserver at http://biosig.unimelb.edu.au/mcsm_ppi2/.