Predicting Relative State Populations Without a Physics Engine Using AlphaFold2

Abstract

This paper presents a novel approach for predicting the relative populations of protein conformations using AlphaFold 2, an AI-powered method that has revolutionized biology by enabling the accurate prediction of protein structures. While AlphaFold 2 has shown exceptional accuracy and speed, it is designed to predict proteins’ single ground state conformations and is limited in its ability to predict fold switching and the effects of mutations on conformational landscapes. Here, we demonstrate how AlphaFold 2 can directly predict the relative populations of different conformations of proteins and even accurately predict changes in those populations induced by mutations by subsampling multiple sequence alignments. We tested our method against NMR experiments on two proteins with drastically different amounts of available sequence data, Abl1 kinase and the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and predicted their relative state populations with accuracies in excess of 80%. Our method offers a fast and cost-effective way to predict protein conformations and their relative populations at even single point mutation resolution, making it a useful tool for pharmacology, analyzing NMR data, and studying the effects of evolution.

Publication
Nature Communications
Gabriel Monteiro Da Silva
Gabriel Monteiro Da Silva
Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry
Brenda Rubenstein
Brenda Rubenstein
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Physics