Coarse-Grained Conformational Sampling of Protein Structure Improves the Fit to Experimental Hydrogen-Exchange Data
Monitoring hydrogen/deuterium exchange (HDX) undergone by a protein in solution produces experimental data that translates into valuable information about the protein's structure. Data produced by HDX experiments is often interpreted using a crystal structure of the protein, when available. However, it has been shown that the correspondence between experimental HDX data and crystal structures is often not satisfactory. This creates difficulties when trying to perform a structural analysis of the HDX data. In this paper, we evaluate several strategies to obtain a conformation providing a good fit to the experimental HDX data, which is a premise of an accurate structural analysis. We show that performing molecular dynamics simulations can be inadequate to obtain such conformations, and we propose a novel methodology involving a coarse-grained conformational sampling approach instead. By extensively exploring the intrinsic flexibility of a protein with this approach, we produce a conformational ensemble from which we extract aﾠsingleﾠconformation providing a good fit to the experimental HDX data. We successfully demonstrate the applicability of our method to four small and medium-sized proteins.