In silico insights into protein–protein interaction disruptive mutations in the PCSK9-LDLR complex

William R. Martin, Felice C. Lightstone, Feixiong Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Gain-of-function mutations in PCSK9 (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9) lead to reduced uptake of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and, therefore, increased plasma LDL levels. However, the mechanism by which these mutants reduce LDL reuptake is not fully understood. Here, we have used molecular dynamics simulations, MM/PBSA (Molecular Mechanics/Poisson–Boltzmann Surface Area) binding affinity calculations, and residue interaction networks, to investigate the protein–protein interaction (PPI) disruptive effects of two of PCSK9′s gain-of-function mutations, Ser127Arg and Asp374Tyr on the PCSK9 and LDL receptor complex. In addition to these PPI disruptive mutants, a third, non-interface mutation (Arg496Trp) is included as a positive control. Our results indicate that Ser127Arg and Asp374Tyr confer significantly improved binding affinity, as well as different binding modes, when compared to the wild-type. These PPI disruptive mutations lie between the EGF(A) (epidermal growth factor precursor homology domain A) of the LDL receptor and the catalytic domain of PCSK9 (Asp374Tyr) and between the prodomain of PCSK9 and the β-propeller of the LDL receptor (Ser127Arg). The interactions involved in these two interfaces result in an LDL receptor that is sterically inhibited from entering its closed conformation. This could potentially implicate the prodomain as a target for small molecule inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1550
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • LDLR
  • Molecular Dynamics
  • PCSK9
  • PPI disruptive mutation
  • Protein
  • Protein interaction (PPI)
  • Residue interaction network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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