Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are the most frequent variation in the human genome. Nonsynonymous SNPs that lead to missense mutations can be neutral or deleterious, and several computational methods have been presented that predict the phenotype of human missense mutations. These methods use sequence-based and structure-based features in various combinations, relying on different statistical distributions of these features for deleterious and neutral mutations. One structure-based feature that has not been studied significantly is the accessible surface area within biologically relevant oligomeric assemblies. These assemblies are different from the crystallographic asymmetric unit for more than half of X-ray crystal structures. We find that mutations in the core of proteins or in the interfaces in biological assemblies are significantly more likely to be disease-associated than those on the surface of the biological assemblies. For structures with more than one protein in the biological assembly (whether the same sequence or different), we find the accessible surface area from biological assemblies provides a statistically significant improvement in prediction over the accessible surface area of monomers from protein crystal structures (P = 6e-5). When adding this information to sequence-based features such as the difference between wildtype and mutant position-specific profile scores, the improvement from biological assemblies is statistically significant but much smaller (P = 0.018). Combining this information with sequence-based features in a support vector machine leads to 82% accuracy on a balanced dataset of 50% disease-associated mutations from SwissVar and 50% neutral mutations from human/primate sequence differences in orthologous proteins. Proteins 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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