Titin is a giant muscle protein with a highly modular architecture consisting of multiple repeats of two sequence motifs, named type I and type II. Type I motifs are homologous to members of the fibronectin type 3 (Fn3) superfamily, one of the motifs most widespread in modular proteins. Fn3 domains are thought to mediate protein-protein interactions and to act as spacers. In titin, Fn3 modules are present in two different super-repeated patterns, likely to be involved in sarcomere assembly through interactions with A-band proteins. Here, we discuss results from homology modelling the whole family of Fn3 domains in titin. Homology modelling is a powerful tool that will play an increasingly important role in the post-genomic era. It is particularly useful for extending experimental structure determinations of parts of multidomain proteins that contain multiple copies of the same motif. The 3D structures of a representative titin type I domain and of other extracellular Fn3 modules were used as a template to model the structures of the 132 copies in titin. The resulting models suggest residues that contribute to the fold stability and allow us to distinguish these from residues likely to have functional importance. In particular, analysis of the models and mapping of the consensus sequence onto the 3D structure suggest putative surfaces of interaction with other proteins. From the structures of isolated modules and the pattern of conservation in the multiple alignment of the whole titin Ig and Fn3 families, it is possible to address the question of how tandem modules are assembled. Our predictions can be validated experimentally.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.