Large differences in proportions of harmful and benign amino acid substitutions between proteins and diseases

Hum Mutat. 2017 Jul;38(7):839-848. doi: 10.1002/humu.23236. Epub 2017 May 30.


Genes and proteins are known to have differences in their sensitivity to alterations. Despite numerous sequencing studies, proportions of harmful and harmless substitutions are not known for proteins and groups of proteins. To address this question, we predicted the outcome for all possible single amino acid substitutions (AASs) in nine representative protein groups by using the PON-P2 method. The effects on 996 proteins were studied and vast differences were noticed. Proteins in the cancer group harbor the largest proportion of harmful variants (42.1%), whereas the non-disease group of proteins not known to have a disease association and not involved in the housekeeping functions had the lowest number of harmful variants (4.2%). Differences in the proportions of the harmful and benign variants are wide within each group, but they still show clear differences between the groups. Frequently appearing protein domains show a wide spectrum of variant frequencies, whereas no major protein structural class-specific differences were noticed. AAS types in the original and variant residues showed distinctive patterns, which are shared by all the protein groups. The observations are relevant for understanding genetic bases of diseases, variation interpretation, and for the development of methods for that purpose.

Keywords: disease groups; pathogenicity; proteins; sensitivity; variation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution*
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Databases, Factual
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Domains
  • Proteins / genetics*


  • Proteins