Background: TRIF is a key protein in antiviral innate immunity, operating downstream of TLRs. TRIF activation leads to the production of interferon-β and pro-inflammatory cytokines. There is evidence from experiments to suggest that the N-terminal domain of TRIF binds to its TIR domain to avoid constitutive activation. However, no structure of a complex between the N-terminal domain and the TIR domain exists till date. The disordered nature of the region connecting the N-terminal domain and the TIR domain compounds the issue of elucidating the mechanism of autoinhibition of TRIF. In this study, we have employed an integrative approach consisting of mutual information analysis, docking, molecular dynamics simulations and residue network analysis, in combination with existing experimental data to provide a glimpse of TRIF in its autoinhibited state.
Results: Our extensive docking approach reveals that the N-terminal domain binds to the BB loop-B helix region of the TIR domain, consistent with experimental observations. Long length molecular dynamics simulations of 1 microsecond performed on the docked model highlights residues participating in hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic interactions at the interface. A pair of residues present in the vicinity of the interface is also predicted by mutual information analysis, to co-evolve. Residues mediating long-range interactions within the TIR domain of TRIF were identified using residue network analysis.
Conclusions: Based on the results of the modelling and residue network analysis, we propose that the N-terminal domain binds to the BB loop region of the TIR domain, thereby preventing its homodimersation. The binding of TRIF to TLR3 or TRAM could induce a slight conformational change, causing the interactions between the N-terminal domain and TIR domain to disrupt, thereby exposing the BB loop and rendering it amenable for higher-order oligomerisation.
Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Michael Gromiha, Srikrishna Subramaniam and Peter Bond (nominated by Chandra Verma).
Keywords: Autoinhibition; Docking; Molecular dynamics simulations; Mutual information; Residue network analysis; TRIF.