Network Mapping of the Conformational Heterogeneity of SOD1 by Deploying Statistical Cluster Analysis of FTIR Spectra

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ALS, Superoxide dismutase, Infrared spectroscopy, Protein folding, Correlation analysis, Cluster dendrogram, Protein aggregation

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A crucial contribution to the heterogeneity of the conformational landscape of a protein comes from the way an intermediate relates to another intermediate state in its journey from the unfolded to folded or misfolded form. Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to decode this relatedness in a quantifiable manner. Here, we developed an application of statistical cluster analyses to explore the conformational heterogeneity of a metalloenzyme, human cytosolic copper–zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1), using the inputs from infrared spectroscopy. This study provides a quantifiable picture of how conformational information at one particular site (for example, the copper-binding pocket) is related to the information at the second site (for example, the zinc-binding pocket), and how this relatedness is transferred to the global conformational information of the protein. The distance outputs were used to quantitatively generate a network capturing the folding sub-stages of SOD1.

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Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, v. 76, p. 4145-4154