Research Summary: In Silico and In Vitro Investigations of the Mutability of Disease-Causing Missense Mutation Sites in Spermine Synthase



Spermine synthase (SMS) is a key enzyme controlling the concentration of spermidine and spermine in the cell. The importance of SMS is manifested by the fact that single missense mutations were found to cause Snyder-Robinson Syndrome (SRS). At the same time, currently there are no non-synonymous single nucleoside polymorphisms, nsSNPs (harmless mutations), found in SMS, which may imply that the SMS does not tolerate amino acid substitutions, i.e. is not mutable.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To investigate the mutability of the SMS, we carried out in silico analysis and in vitro experiments of the effects of amino acid substitutions at the missense mutation sites (G56, V132 and I150) that have been shown to cause SRS. Our investigation showed that the mutation sites have different degree of mutability depending on their structural micro-environment and involvement in the function and structural integrity of the SMS. It was found that the I150 site does not tolerate any mutation, while V132, despite its key position at the interface of SMS dimer, is quite mutable. The G56 site is in the middle of the spectra, but still quite sensitive to charge residue replacement.


The performed analysis showed that mutability depends on the detail of the structural and functional factors and cannot be predicted based on conservation of wild type properties alone. Also, harmless nsSNPs can be expected to occur even at sites at which missense mutations were found to cause diseases.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 27-May-2011

Author(s): Zhang Z., Norris J., Schwartz C., Alexov E.


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