Deciphering common recognition principles of nucleoside mono/di and tri-phosphates binding in diverse proteins via structural matching of their binding sites

Proteins. 2017 Sep;85(9):1699-1712. doi: 10.1002/prot.25328. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) ligands are of high biological importance and are essential for all life forms. A pre-requisite for them to participate in diverse biochemical processes is their recognition by diverse proteins. It is thus of great interest to understand the basis for such recognition in different proteins. Towards this, we have used a structural bioinformatics approach and analyze structures of 4677 NTP complexes available in Protein Data Bank (PDB). Binding sites were extracted and compared exhaustively using PocketMatch, a sensitive in-house site comparison algorithm, which resulted in grouping the entire dataset into 27 site-types. Each of these site-types represent a structural motif comprised of two or more residue conservations, derived using another in-house tool for superposing binding sites, PocketAlign. The 27 site-types could be grouped further into 9 super-types by considering partial similarities in the sites, which indicated that the individual site-types comprise different combinations of one or more site features. A scan across PDB using the 27 structural motifs determined the motifs to be specific to NTP binding sites, and a computational alanine mutagenesis indicated that residues identified to be highly conserved in the motifs are also most contributing to binding. Alternate orientations of the ligand in several site-types were observed and rationalized, indicating the possibility of some residues serving as anchors for NTP recognition. The presence of multiple site-types and the grouping of multiple folds into each site-type is strongly suggestive of convergent evolution. Knowledge of determinants obtained from this study will be useful for detecting function in unknown proteins. Proteins 2017; 85:1699-1712. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: ATP binding motif; NTP motifs; binding site signature; hierarchical classification; structural motifs.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Binding Sites
  • Computational Biology
  • Databases, Protein
  • Ligands
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase / chemistry*
  • Nucleotides / chemistry*
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / chemistry*


  • Ligands
  • Nucleotides
  • Phosphates
  • Proteins
  • Nucleoside-Triphosphatase