A group of intrinsically disordered, hydrophilic proteins-Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins-has been linked to survival in plants and animals in periods of stress, putatively through safeguarding enzymatic function and prevention of aggregation in times of dehydration/heat. Yet despite decades of effort, the molecular-level mechanisms defining this protective function remain unknown. A recent effort to understand LEA functionality began with the unique application of phage display, wherein phage display and biopanning over recombinant Seed Maturation Protein homologs from Arabidopsis thaliana and Glycine max were used to retrieve client proteins at two different temperatures, with one intended to represent heat stress. From this previous study, we identified 21 client proteins for which clones were recovered, sometimes repeatedly. Here, we use sequence analysis and homology modeling of the client proteins to ascertain common sequence and structural properties that may contribute to binding affinity with the protective LEA protein. Our methods uncover what appears to be a predilection for protein-nucleic acid interactions among LEA client proteins, which is suggestive of subcellular residence. The results from this initial computational study will guide future efforts to uncover the protein protective mechanisms during heat stress, potentially leading to phage-display-directed evolution of synthetic LEA molecules.

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Published in Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, v. 2013, Article ID 470390, p. 1-11.

Copyright © 2013 Rekha Kushwaha et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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