Misfolding-Associated Exposure of Natively Buried Residues in Mutant SOD1 Facilitates Binding to TRAF6

P Garg and S Semmler and C Baudouin and C Vande Velde and SS Plotkin, JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, 434, 167697 (2022).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jmb.2022.167697

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease primarily impacting motor neurons. Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are the second most common cause of familial ALS. Several of these mutations lead to misfolding or toxic gain of function in the SOD1 protein. Recently, we reported that misfolded SOD1 interacts with TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) in the SOD1(G93A) rat model of ALS. Further, we showed in cultured cells that several mutant SOD1 proteins, but not wildtype SOD1 protein, interact with TRAF6 via the MATH domain. Here, we sought to uncover the structural details of this interaction through molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a dimeric model system, coarse grained using the AWSEM force field. We used direct MD simulations to identify buried residues, and predict binding poses by clustering frames from the trajectories. Metadynamics simulations were also used to deduce preferred binding regions on the protein surfaces from the potential of the mean force in orientation space. Well-folded SOD1 was found to bind TRAF6 via co-option of its native homodimer interface. However, if loops IV and VII of SOD1 were disordered, as typically occurs in the absence of stabilizing Zn2+ ion binding, these disordered loops now participated in novel interactions with TRAF6. On TRAF6, multiple interaction hot-spots were distributed around the equatorial region of the MATH domain beta barrel. Expression of TRAF6 variants with mutations in this region in cultured cells demonstrated that TRAF6(T475) facilitates interaction with different SOD1 mutants. These findings contribute to our under-standing of the disease mechanism and uncover potential targets for the development of therapeutics. (C) 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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