Structural resolution of switchable states of a de novo peptide assembly
William M. Dawson
Nature Communications, 12, Article number: 1530 (2021)
De novo protein design is advancing rapidly. However, most designs are for single states. Here we report a de novo designed peptide that forms multiple α-helical-bundle states that are accessible and interconvertible under the same conditions. Usually in such designs amphipathic α helices associate to form compact structures with consolidated hydrophobic cores. However, recent rational and computational designs have delivered open α-helical barrels with functionalisable cavities. By placing glycine judiciously in the helical interfaces of an α-helical barrel, we obtain both open and compact states in a single protein crystal. Molecular dynamics simulations indicate a free-energy landscape with multiple and interconverting states. Together, these findings suggest a frustrated system in which steric interactions that maintain the open barrel and the hydrophobic effect that drives complete collapse are traded-off. Indeed, addition of a hydrophobic co-solvent that can bind within the barrel affects the switch between the states both in silico and experimentally.
Structure analysis, Peptide