UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Protein–Protein Interactions Mediated by Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions Are Enriched in Missense Mutations Wong, Eric Tsz Chung; So, Victor; Guron, Mike; Kuechler, Erich R.; Malhis, Nawar; Bui, Jennifer M.; Gsponer, Jörg


Because proteins are fundamental to most biological processes, many genetic diseases can be traced back to single nucleotide variants (SNVs) that cause changes in protein sequences. However, not all SNVs that result in amino acid substitutions cause disease as each residue is under different structural and functional constraints. Influential studies have shown that protein–protein interaction interfaces are enriched in disease-associated SNVs and depleted in SNVs that are common in the general population. These studies focus primarily on folded (globular) protein domains and overlook the prevalent class of protein interactions mediated by intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs). Therefore, we investigated the enrichment patterns of missense mutation-causing SNVs that are associated with disease and cancer, as well as those present in the healthy population, in structures of IDR-mediated interactions with comparisons to classical globular interactions. When comparing the different categories of interaction interfaces, division of the interface regions into solvent-exposed rim residues and buried core residues reveal distinctive enrichment patterns for the various types of missense mutations. Most notably, we demonstrate a strong enrichment at the interface core of interacting IDRs in disease mutations and its depletion in neutral ones, which supports the view that the disruption of IDR interactions is a mechanism underlying many diseases. Intriguingly, we also found an asymmetry across the IDR interaction interface in the enrichment of certain missense mutation types, which may hint at an increased variant tolerance and urges further investigations of IDR interactions.

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