Evolutionary conservation of the polyproline II conformation surrounding intrinsically disordered phosphorylation sites

Authors

  • W. Austin Elam,

    1. T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Travis P. Schrank,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas-Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas
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  • Andrew J. Campagnolo,

    1. T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
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  • Vincent J. Hilser

    Corresponding author
    1. T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
    2. Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
    • Departments of Biology and Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles St., 107 Mudd Hall, Baltimore, MD 21218
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Abstract

Intrinsically disordered (ID) proteins function in the absence of a unique stable structure and appear to challenge the classic structure-function paradigm. The extent to which ID proteins take advantage of subtle conformational biases to perform functions, and whether signals for such mechanism can be identified in proteome-wide studies is not well understood. Of particular interest is the polyproline II (PII) conformation, suggested to be highly populated in unfolded proteins. We experimentally determine a complete calorimetric propensity scale for the PII conformation. Projection of the scale into representative eukaryotic proteomes reveals significant PII bias in regions coding for ID proteins. Importantly, enrichment of PII in ID proteins, or protein segments, is also captured by other PII scales, indicating that this enrichment is robustly encoded and universally detectable regardless of the method of PII propensity determination. Gene ontology (GO) terms obtained using our PII scale and other scales demonstrate a consensus for molecular functions performed by high PII proteins across the proteome. Perhaps the most striking result of the GO analysis is conserved enrichment (P < 10−8) of phosphorylation sites in high PII regions found by all PII scales. Subsequent conformational analysis reveals a phosphorylation-dependent modulation of PII, suggestive of a conserved “tunability” within these regions. In summary, the application of an experimentally determined polyproline II (PII) propensity scale to proteome-wide sequence analysis and gene ontology reveals an enrichment of PII bias near disordered phosphorylation sites that is conserved throughout eukaryotes.

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