In this dissertation I employ all-atom structure based models with stable energy basins to several existing and novel polypeptide systems (postulated conformation changes of the mammalian prion protein and structurally dual proteins). The common themes are finding unfolding and refolding pathways between highly dissimilar protein structures as a means of understanding exactly how and why a protein may misfold. The modeling is based on the energy funnel landscape theory of protein conformation space. The principle of minimal frustration is considered as the model includes parameters which vary the roughness of the landscape and give rise to off-pathway misfoldings.
The dual basin model is applied to the C-terminal (residues 166-226) of the mammalian prion protein. One basin represents the known alpha-helical (aH) structure while the other represents the same residues in a lefthanded beta-helical (LHBH) conformation. The LHBH structure has been proposed to help describe one class of in vitro grown fibrils, as well as possibly self-templating the conversion of normal cellular prion protein to the infectious form. Yet, it is unclear how the protein may make this global rearrangement. Our results demonstrate that the conformation changes are not strongly limited by large-scale geometry modification and that there may exist an overall preference for the LHBH conformation. Furthermore, our model presents novel intermediate trapping conformations with twisted LHBH structure.
Polypeptides that display structural duality have primary structures that can give rise to different potential native conformations. We apply the structure-based all-atom model to a leucine zipper protein template with a stable aH structure that has been shown in experiment to switch to a β hairpin structure when exposed to a low-pH environment. We show that the model can be used to perform large-scale temperature-dependent conformational switching by simulating this switching behavior. We augmented the switching by modifying the proteins in two different ways: first, by mutating the Gln residues in the protein to Thr and second, by binding the cysteine residues at the protein termini.
|Advisor:||Cox, Daniel L.|
|Commitee:||Duan, Yong, Scalettar, Richard T.|
|School:||University of California, Davis|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||All-atoms, Conformation changes, Gromacs, Polypeptide systems, Prion, Proteins|
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