, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 113-122
Date: 21 Nov 2008

An interrupted beta-propeller and protein disorder: structural bioinformatics insights into the N-terminus of alsin

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Defects in the human ALS2 gene, which encodes the 1,657-amino-acid residue protein alsin, are linked to several related motor neuron diseases. We created a structural model for the N-terminal 690-residue region of alsin through comparative modelling based on regulator of chromosome condensation 1 (RCC1). We propose that this alsin region contains seven RCC1-like repeats in a seven-bladed beta-propeller structure. The propeller is formed by a double clasp arrangement containing two segments (residues 1–218 and residues 525–690). The 306-residue insert region, predicted to lie within blade 5 and to be largely disordered, is poorly conserved across species. Surface patches of evolutionary conservation probably indicate locations of binding sites. Both disease-causing missense mutations—Cys157Tyr and Gly540Glu—are buried in the propeller and likely to be structurally disruptive. This study aids design of experimental studies by highlighting the importance of construct length, will enhance interpretation of protein–protein interactions, and enable rational site-directed mutagenesis.