Structural and energy determinants in protein-RNA docking


Deciphering the structural and energetic determinants of protein-RNA interactions harbors the potential to understand key cell processes at molecular level, such as gene expression and regulation. With this purpose, computational methods like docking aim to complement current biophysical and structural biology efforts. However, the few reported docking algorithms for protein-RNA interactions show limited predictive success rates, mainly due to incomplete sampling of the conformational space of both the protein and the RNA molecules, as well as to the difficulties of the scoring function in identifying the correct docking models. Here, we have tested the predictive value of a variety of knowledge-based and energetic scoring functions on a recently published protein-RNA docking benchmark and developed a scoring function able to efficiently discriminate docking decoys. We first performed docking calculations with the bound conformation, which allowed us to analyze the problem in optimal conditions. We found that geometry-based terms and electrostatics were the most important scoring terms, while binding propensities and desolvation were much less relevant for the scoring of protein-RNA models. This is in contrast with what we observed for protein-protein docking. The results also showed an interesting dependence of the predictive rates on the flexibility of the protein molecule, which arises from the observed higher positive charge of flexible interfaces and provides hints for future development of more efficient protein-RNA docking methods.This work is supported by grant BIO2013-48213-R from Plan Nacional I+D+i (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness). LP-C was recipient of an FPU fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Science.Peer ReviewedPostprint (author's final draft

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