Structural and energetic determinants of tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase sulfation specificity

Bioinformatics. 2014 Aug 15;30(16):2302-9. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu309. Epub 2014 May 2.


Motivation: Tyrosine sulfation is a type of post-translational modification (PTM) catalyzed by tyrosylprotein sulfotransferases (TPST). The modification plays a crucial role in mediating protein-protein interactions in many biologically important processes. There is no well-defined sequence motif for TPST sulfation, and the underlying determinants of TPST sulfation specificity remains elusive. Here, we perform molecular modeling to uncover the structural and energetic determinants of TPST sulfation specificity.

Results: We estimate the binding affinities between TPST and peptides around tyrosines of both sulfated and non-sulfated proteins to differentiate them. We find that better differentiation is achieved after including energy costs associated with local unfolding of the tyrosine-containing peptide in a host protein, which depends on both the peptide's secondary structures and solvent accessibility. Local unfolding renders buried peptide-with ordered structures-thermodynamically available for TPST binding. Our results suggest that both thermodynamic availability of the peptide and its binding affinity to the enzyme are important for TPST sulfation specificity, and their interplay results into great variations in sequences and structures of sulfated peptides. We expect our method to be useful in predicting potential sulfation sites and transferable to other TPST variants. Our study may also shed light on other PTM systems without well-defined sequence and structural specificities.

Availability and implementation: All the data and scripts used in the work are available at

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • HIV Antibodies / chemistry
  • HIV Antibodies / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Unfolding
  • Static Electricity
  • Sulfotransferases / chemistry*
  • Sulfotransferases / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • HIV Antibodies
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides
  • tyrosine O-sulfate
  • Tyrosine
  • Sulfotransferases
  • TPST2 protein, human
  • protein-tyrosine sulfotransferase