Functional and Genomic Analyses of Alpha-Solenoid Proteins

  • Alpha-solenoids are flexible protein structural domains formed by ensembles of alpha-helical repeats (Armadillo and HEAT repeats among others). While homology can be used to detect many of these repeats, some alpha-solenoids have very little sequence homology to proteins of known structure and we expect that many remain undetected. We previously developed a method for detection of alpha-helical repeats based on a neural network trained on a dataset of protein structures. Here we improved the detection algorithm and updated the training dataset using recently solved structures of alpha-solenoids. Unexpectedly, we identified occurrences of alpha-solenoids in solved protein structures that escaped attention, for example within the core of the catalytic subunit of PI3KC. Our results expand the current set of known alpha-solenoids. Application of our tool to the protein universe allowed us to detect their significant enrichment in proteins interacting with many proteins, confirming that alpha-solenoids are generally involved in protein-protein interactions. We then studied the taxonomic distribution of alpha-solenoids to discuss an evolutionary scenario for the emergence of this type of domain, speculating that alpha-solenoids have emerged in multiple taxa in independent events by convergent evolution. We observe a higher rate of alpha-solenoids in eukaryotic genomes and in some prokaryotic families, such as Cyanobacteria and Planctomycetes, which could be associated to increased cellular complexity. The method is available at

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Author:David Fournier, Gareth A. Palidwor, Sergey Shcherbinin, Angelika Szengel, Martin H. Schaefer, Carol Perez-Iratxeta, Miguel A. Andrade-Navarro
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE Journal
Year of first publication:2013