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Milanetti E.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Raimondo D.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,Institute Pasteur Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti | Tramontano A.,Italian Institute of Technology

Motivation: Determination of drug absorption is an important component of the drug discovery and development process in that it plays a key role in the decision to promote drug candidates to clinical trials. We have developed a method that, on the basis of an analysis of the dynamic distribution of water molecules around a compound obtained by molecular dynamics simulations, can compute a parameter-free value that correlates very well with the compound permeability measured using the human colon adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cell line assay. Results: The method has been tested on twenty-three neutral drugs for which a consistent set of experimental data is available. We show here that our method reproduces the experimental data better than other existing tools. Furthermore it provides a detailed view of the relationship between the hydration and the permeability properties of molecules. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. Source

Gimonneau G.,Montpellier University | Gimonneau G.,Institute Of Recherche En Science Of La Sante Irss | Pombi M.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Pombi M.,Institute Pasteur Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti | And 5 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors

Background: Predation of aquatic immature stages has been identified as a major evolutionary force driving habitat segregation and niche partitioning in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto in the humid savannahs of Burkina Faso, West Africa. Here, we explored behavioural responses to the presence of a predator in wild populations of the M and S molecular forms of An. gambiae that typically breed in permanent (e.g., rice field paddies) and temporary (e.g., road ruts) water collections. Methods. Larvae used in these experiments were obtained from eggs laid by wild female An. gambiae collected from two localities in south-western Burkina Faso during the 2008 rainy season. Single larvae were observed in an experimental arena, and behavioural traits were recorded and quantified a) in the absence of a predator and b) in the presence of a widespread mosquito predator, the backswimmer Anisops jaczewskii. Differences in the proportion of time allocated to each behaviour were assessed using Principal Component Analysis and Multivariate Analysis of Variance. Results: The behaviour of M and S form larvae was found to differ significantly; although both forms mainly foraged at the water surface, spending 60-90% of their time filtering water at the surface or along the wall of the container, M form larvae spent on average significantly more time browsing at the bottom of the container than S form larvae (4.5 vs. 1.3% of their overall time, respectively; P < 0.05). In the presence of a predator, larvae of both forms modified their behaviour, spending significantly more time resting along the container wall (P < 0.001). This change in behaviour was at least twice as great in the M form (from 38.6 to 66.6% of the time at the wall in the absence and presence of the predator, respectively) than in the S form (from 48.3 to 64.1%). Thrashing at the water surface exposed larvae to a significantly greater risk of predation by the notonectid (P < 0.01), whereas predation occurred significantly less often when larvae were at the container wall (P < 0.05) and might reflect predator vigilance. Conclusions: Behavioural differences between larvae of the M and S form of An. gambiae in response to an acute predation risk is likely to be a reflection of different trade-offs between foraging and predator vigilance that might be of adaptive value in contrasting aquatic ecosystems. Future studies should explore the relevance of these findings under the wide range of natural settings where both forms co-exist in Africa. © 2012 Gimonneau et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Bonella S.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Raimondo D.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Milanetti E.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Physical Chemistry B

In spite of its relevant biological role, no general consensus exists on the quantitative characterization of amino acid's hydropathy. In particular, many hydrophobicity scales exist, often producing quite different rankings for the amino acids. To make progress toward a systematic classification, we analyze amino acids' hydropathy based on the orientation of water molecules at a given distance from them as computed from molecular dynamics simulations. In contrast with what is usually done, we argue that assigning a single number is not enough to characterize the properties of an amino acid, in particular when both hydrophobic and hydrophilic regions are present in a residue. Instead we show that appropriately defined conditional probability densities can be used to map the hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups on the amino acids with greater detail than possible with other available methods. Three indicators are then defined based on the features of these probabilities to quantify the specific hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity of each amino acid. The characterization that we propose can be used to understand some of the ambiguities in the ranking of amino acids in the current scales. The quantitative indicators can also be used in combination with standard bioinformatics tools to predict the location of transmembrane regions of proteins. The method is sensitive to the specific environment of the amino acids and can be applied to unnatural and modified amino acids, as well as to other small organic molecules. © 2014 American Chemical Society. Source

Claros C.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,Institute Pasteur Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti | Tramontano A.,Italian Institute of Technology

Comprehensive protein interaction maps can complement genetic and biochemical experiments and allow the formulation of new hypotheses to be tested in the system of interest. The computational analysis of the maps may help to focus on interesting cases and thereby to appropriately prioritize the validation experiments. We show here that, by automatically comparing and analyzing structurally similar regions of proteins of known structure interacting with a common partner, it is possible to identify mutually exclusive interactions present in the maps with a sensitivity of 70% and a specificity higher than 85% and that, in about three fourth of the correctly identified complexes, we also correctly recognize at least one residue (five on average) belonging to the interaction interface. Given the present and continuously increasing number of proteins of known structure, the requirement of the knowledge of the structure of the interacting proteins does not substantially impact on the coverage of our strategy that can be estimated to be around 25%. We also introduce here the Estrella server that embodies this strategy, is designed for users interested in validating specific hypotheses about the functional role of a protein-protein interaction and it also allows access to pre-computed data for seven organisms. © 2012 Sánchez Claros, Tramontano. Source

Carbajo D.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Tramontano A.,Institute Pasteur Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti | Tramontano A.,Italian Institute of Technology
BMC Bioinformatics

Background: Increasingly, biologists and biochemists use computational tools to design experiments to probe the function of proteins and/or to engineer them for a variety of different purposes. The most effective strategies rely on the knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the protein of interest. However it is often the case that an experimental structure is not available and that models of different quality are used instead. On the other hand, the relationship between the quality of a model and its appropriate use is not easy to derive in general, and so far it has been analyzed in detail only for specific application.Results: This paper describes a database and related software tools that allow testing of a given structure based method on models of a protein representing different levels of accuracy. The comparison of the results of a computational experiment on the experimental structure and on a set of its decoy models will allow developers and users to assess which is the specific threshold of accuracy required to perform the task effectively.Conclusions: The ModelDB server automatically builds decoy models of different accuracy for a given protein of known structure and provides a set of useful tools for their analysis. Pre-computed data for a non-redundant set of deposited protein structures are available for analysis and download in the ModelDB database.Implementation, availability and requirements: Project name: A resource for benchmarking the usefulness of protein structure models. Project home page: http://bl210.caspur.it/MODEL-DB/MODEL-DB_web/MODindex.php.Operating system(s): Platform independent. Programming language: Perl-BioPerl (program); mySQL, Perl DBI and DBD modules (database); php, JavaScript, Jmol scripting (web server). Other requirements: Java Runtime Environment v1.4 or later, Perl, BioPerl, CPAN modules, HHsearch, Modeller, LGA, NCBI Blast package, DSSP, Speedfill (Surfnet) and PSAIA. License: Free. Any restrictions to use by non-academics: No. © 2012 Carbajo and Tramontano; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

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