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Improving the accuracy of protein stability predictions with multistate design using a variety of backbone ensembles



Multistate computational protein design (MSD) with backbone ensembles approximating conformational flexibility can predict higher quality sequences than single-state design with a single fixed backbone. However, it is currently unclear what characteristics of backbone ensembles are required for the accurate prediction of protein sequence stability. In this study, we aimed to improve the accuracy of protein stability predictions made with MSD by using a variety of backbone ensembles to recapitulate the experimentally measured stability of 85 Streptococcal protein G domain β1 sequences. Ensembles tested here include an NMR ensemble as well as those generated by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, by Backrub motions, and by PertMin, a new method that we developed involving the perturbation of atomic coordinates followed by energy minimization. MSD with the PertMin ensembles resulted in the most accurate predictions by providing the highest number of stable sequences in the top 25, and by correctly binning sequences as stable or unstable with the highest success rate (≈90%) and the lowest number of false positives. The performance of PertMin ensembles is due to the fact that their members closely resemble the input crystal structure and have low potential energy. Conversely, the NMR ensemble as well as those generated by MD simulations at 500 or 1000 K reduced prediction accuracy due to their low structural similarity to the crystal structure. The ensembles tested herein thus represent on- or off-target models of the native protein fold and could be used in future studies to design for desired properties other than stability. Proteins 2014; 82:771–784. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.