Structure-based, biophysical annotation of molecular coevolution of acetylcholinesterase



Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is an important enzyme in the nervous system. It terminates signal transmission at chemical synapses by degrading the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and was found to play a role in plaque formation in Alzheimer's disease. Several functional parts of its structure have been identified in the past. Here, we use a coarse-grained anisotropic network model approach based on structure data to analyze protein mechanics of AChE. Single contacts in the protein are “switched off” and the change in the intrinsic dynamics is measured. We correlate the gained insight with information about coevolution within the molecule derived from multiple sequence alignments. More than 300 AChE sequences were aligned and the mutual information of the positions was calculated. From these structural, biophysical, and evolutionary data we could reveal sites of coevolutionary signatures in AChE, annotate them by the selective pressure induced for biophysical reasons, and further pave the way for a more detailed understanding of evolutionary boundary conditions for AChE. Proteins 2011; © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.