Recursive use of evolutionary conservation data in molecular modeling of membrane proteins: A model of the multidrug H+ antiporter EmrE

Jaume Torres, Isaiah T. Arkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Membrane proteins are currently the most biomedically important family of proteins, serving as targets for the majority of pharmaceutical agents. It is also clear that they are invariably abundant in all of the genomes sequence so far, representing up to a third of all open reading frames. Finally, and regrettably, it is clear that they are highly resistant to structural elucidation, representing less than 0.2% of the Protein Data Bank. Recent accomplishments in genome sequencing efforts, however, may help offset this imbalance through the availability of evolutionary conservation data. Herein, we develop a novel approach, utilizing a combination of evolutionary conservation data and global searching molecular dynamics simulations to model membrane proteins, deriving a model for the multidrug H+ antiporter EmrE, a transmembrane four-helix bundle. Structures resulting from an extensive, rotational molecular dynamics search, were evaluated by comparing the residue specific interaction energy and the evolutionary conservation data. Subsequent rounds of molecular dynamics, in which confinement of the search space was undertaken in order to achieve a self consistent result, point to a structure that best satisfies the evolutionary conservation data. As the conservation patterns calculated for each of the helices suggested that the different conservation pattern for helix 3 (as well as being the most conserved) might be due to the oligomeric nature of EmrE, a dodecamer of helices was constructed based on the result of a search of helix 3 as a trimer. The resulting interaction energy per residue in the final model is in reasonable agreement with the evolutionary data and consistent with recent site directed mutagenesis experiments, pointing to the strength of this method as a general tool.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3422-3431
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • EmrE
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Oligomerization
  • Transporters


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