Cancer-related mutations in BRCA1-BRCT cause long-range structural changes in protein-protein binding sites: A molecular dynamics study

Craig A. Gough*, Takashi Gojobori, Tadashi Imanishi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Cancer-associated mutations in the BRCT domain of BRCA1 (BRCA1-BRCT) abolish its tumor suppressor function by disrupting interactions with other proteins such as BACH1. Many cancer-related mutations do not cause sufficient destabilization to lead to global unfolding under physiological conditions, and thus abrogation of function probably is due to localized structural changes. To explore the reasons for mutation-induced loss of function, the authors performed molecular dynamics simulations on three cancer-associated mutants, A1708E, M1775R, and Y1853ter, and on the wild type and benign M1652I mutant, and compared the structures and fluctuations. Only the cancer-associated mutants exhibited significant backbone structure differences from the wild-type crystal structure in BACH1-binding regions, some of which are far from the mutation sites. Backbone differences of the A1708E mutant from the liganded wild type structure in these regions are much larger than those of the unliganded wild type X-ray or molecular dynamics structures. These BACH1-binding regions of the cancer-associated mutants also exhibited increases in their fluctuation magnitudes compared with the same regions in the wild type and H1562I mutant, as quantified by quasiharmonic analysis. Several of the regions of increased fluctuation magnitude correspond to correlated motions of residues in contact that provide a continuous path of fluctuating amino acids in contact from the A1708E and Y1853ter mutation sites to the BACH1-binding sites with altered structure and dynamics. The increased fluctuations in the disease-related mutants suggest an increase in vibrational entropy in the unliganded state that could result in a larger entropy loss in the disease-related mutants upon binding BACH1 than in the wild type. To investigate this possibility, vibrational entropies of the A1708E and wild type in the free state and bound to a BACH1-derived phosphopeptide were calculated using quasiharmonic analysis, to determine the binding entropy difference ΔΔS between the A1708E mutant and the wild type. ΔΔS was determined to be -4.0 cal mol -1 K-1, with an uncertainty of 2 cal mol-1 K-1; that is, the entropy loss upon binding the peptide is 4.0 cal mol-1 K-1 greater for the A1708E mutant, corresponding to an entropic contribution to the ΔΔG of binding (-TΔΔS) 1.1 kcal mol-1 more positive for the mutant. The observed differences in structure, flexibility, and entropy of binding likely are responsible for abolition of BACH1 binding, and illustrate that many disease-related mutations could have very long-range effects. The methods described here have potential for identifying correlated motions responsible for other long-range effects of deleterious mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Binding entropy
  • Breast cancer
  • Disease mutations
  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Quasiharmonic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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