Limited proteolysis of native proteins

Hubbard, S.J., Beynon, R.J. & Thornton, J.M. (1998) Assessment of conformational parameters as predictors of limited proteolytic sites in native protein structures. Prot. Eng. 11, 349-359 [PUBMED] [PDF]

Despite the importance of limited proteolysis in biological systems it is often difficult to rationalize why a proteinase hydrolyses a particular bond, given a simple sequence specificity alone. Understanding of the structural properties limiting the proteolysis represents a first step on the pathway to control and manipulation of this phenomena. An expanded set of nick-sites in proteins of known tertiary structure, cut by both narrow and broad specificity proteinases, has been generated yielding a robust data set of strictly limited sites. A critical evaluation of an expanded set of conformational parameters revealed a strong correlation with limited proteolytic sites, although they are only modest predictors in isolation. The overall predictive power is significantly improved when the conformational parameters are combined in a weighted predictive scheme that permits their relative importance to be compared via a Metropolis search protocol. A subset of the parameters performs equally well demonstrating the key determinants of susceptibility. The derived predictive algorithm has been made available via the internet. Its utility for predicting other surface-correlated features is also discussed.