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The folding free energy is an important characteristic of proteins stability and is directly related to protein's wild-type function. The changes of protein's stability due to naturally occurring mutations, missense mutations, are typically causing diseases. Single point mutations made in vitro are frequently used to assess the contribution of given amino acid to the stability of the protein. In both cases, it is desirable to predict the change of the folding free energy upon single point mutations in order to either provide insights of the molecular mechanism of the change or to design new experimental studies. We report an approach that predicts the free energy change upon single point mutation by utilizing the 3D structure of the wild-type protein. It is based on variation of the molecular mechanics Generalized Born (MMGB) method, scaled with optimized parameters (sMMGB) and utilizing specific model of unfolded state. The corresponding mutations are built in silico and the predictions are tested against large dataset of 1109 mutations with experimentally measured changes of the folding free energy. Benchmarking resulted in root mean square deviation = 1.78 kcal/mol and slope of the linear regression fit between the experimental data and the calculations was 1.04. The sMMGB is compared with other leading methods of predicting folding free energy changes upon single mutations and results discussed with respect to various parameters. All the pdb files we used in this article can be downloaded from Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.


Zhe Zhang, Lin Wang, Yang Gao, Jie Zhang, Maxim Zhenirovskyy, Emil Alexov. Predicting folding free energy changes upon single point mutations. Bioinformatics (Oxford, England). 2012 Mar 1;28(5):664-71

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PMID: 22238268

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