Deriving heterospecific self-assembling protein-protein interactions using a computational interactome screen

Richard O. Crooks, Daniel Baxter, Anna S. Panek, Anneke T. Lubben, Jody M. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


Interactions between naturally occurring proteins are highly specific, with protein-network imbalances associated with numerous diseases. For designed protein-protein interactions (PPIs), required specificity can be notoriously difficult to engineer. To accelerate this process we have derived peptides that form heterospecific PPIs when combined. This is achieved using software that generates large virtual libraries of peptide sequences and searches within the resulting interactome for preferentially interacting peptides. To demonstrate feasibility we have i) generated 1536 peptide sequences based on the parallel dimeric coiled coil motif and varied residues known to be important for stability and specificity ii) screened the 1,180,416 member interactome for predicted Tm values and iii) used predicted Tm cut-off points to isolate eight peptides which form four heterospecific PPIs when combined. This required that all 32 hypothetical off-target interactions within the eight-peptide interactome be disfavoured and that the four desired interactions pair correctly. Lastly, we have verified the approach by characterising all 36 pairs within the interactome. In analysing the output we hypothesised that several sequences are capable of adopting antiparallel orientations. We subsequently improved the software by removing sequences where doing so led to fully complementary electrostatic
pairings. Our approach can be used to derive increasingly large and therefore complex sets of heterospecific PPIs with a wide range of potential downstream applications from disease modulation to the design of biomaterials and peptides in synthetic biology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-398
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number2, Part A
Early online date2 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2016


  • peptide
  • coiled coils
  • in silico library screening
  • computational biology
  • interactome screen
  • heterospecific proteins
  • protein-protein interactions
  • de novo design


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