Target recognition in tandem WW domains: complex structures for parallel and antiparallel ligand orientation in h-FBP21 tandem WW
M. T. Wenz, M. Bertazzon, J. Sticht, St. Aleksic, D. Gjorgjevikj, Ch. Freund, B. G. Keller – 2022
Protein-protein interactions often rely on specialized recognition domains, such as WW domains, which bind to specific proline-rich sequences. The specificity of these protein-protein interactions can be increased by tandem repeats, i.e. two WW domains connected by a linker. With a flexible linker, the WW domains can move freely with respect to each other. Additionally, the tandem WW domains can bind in two different orientations to their target sequences. This makes the elucidation of complex structures of tandem WW domains extremely challenging. Here, we identify and characterize two complex structures of the tandem WW domain of human formin-binding protein 21 and a peptide sequence from its natural binding partner, the core-splicing protein SmB/B′. The two structures differ in the ligand orientation, and consequently also in the relative orientation of the two WW domains. We analyze and probe the interactions in the complexes by molecular simulations and NMR experiments. The workflow to identify the complex structures uses molecular simulations, density-based clustering and peptide docking. It is designed to systematically generate possible complex structures for repeats of recognition domains. These stuctures will help us to understand the synergistic and multivalency effects that generate the astonishing versatility and specificity of protein-protein interactions.