Allosteric pathway identification through network analysis: from molecular dynamics simulations to interactive 2D and 3D graphs
Allostery is a universal phenomenon that couples the information induced by a local perturbation (effector) in a protein to spatially distant regulated sites. Such an event can be described in terms of a large scale transmission of information (communication) through a dynamic coupling between structurally rigid (minimally frustrated) and plastic (locally frustrated) clusters of residues. To elaborate a rational description of allosteric coupling, we propose an original approach – MOdular NETwork Analysis (MONETA) – based on the analysis of inter-residue dynamical correlations to localize the propagation of both structural and dynamical effects of a perturbation throughout a protein structure. MONETA uses inter-residue cross-correlations and commute times computed from molecular dynamics simulations and a topological description of a protein to build a modular network representation composed of clusters of residues (dynamic segments) linked together by chains of residues (communication pathways). MONETA provides a brand new direct and simple visualization of protein allosteric communication. A GEPHI module implemented in the MONETA package allows the generation of 2D graphs of the communication network. An interactive PyMOL plugin permits drawing of the communication pathways between chosen protein fragments or residues on a 3D representation. MONETA is a powerful tool for on-the-fly display of communication networks in proteins. We applied MONETA for the analysis of communication pathways (i) between the main regulatory fragments of receptors tyrosine kinases (RTKs), KIT and CSF-1R, in the native and mutated states and (ii) in proteins STAT5 (STAT5a and STAT5b) in the phosphorylated and the unphosphorylated forms. The description of the physical support for allosteric coupling by MONETA allowed a comparison of the mechanisms of (a) constitutive activation induced by equivalent mutations in two RTKs and (b) allosteric regulation in the activated and non-activated STAT5 proteins. Our theoretical prediction based on results obtained with MONETA was validated for KIT by in vitro experiments. MONETA is a versatile analytical and visualization tool entirely devoted to the understanding of the functioning/malfunctioning of allosteric regulation in proteins – a crucial basis to guide the discovery of next-generation allosteric drugs.