The great expansion in the number of genome sequencing projects has revealed the importance of computational methods to speed up the characterization of unknown genes. These studies have been improved by the use of three dimensional information from the predicted proteins generated by molecular modeling techniques. In this work, we disclose the structure-function relationship of a gene product from Leishmania amazonensis by applying molecular modeling and bioinformatics techniques.
The analyzed sequence encodes a 159 aminoacids polypeptide (estimated 18 kDa) and was denoted LaPABP for its high homology with poly-A binding proteins from trypanosomatids. The domain structure, clustering analysis and a three dimensional model of LaPABP, basically obtained by homology modeling on the structure of the human poly-A binding protein, are described. Based on the analysis of the electrostatic potential mapped on the model's surface and conservation of intramolecular contacts responsible for folding stabilization we hypothesize that this protein may have less avidity to RNA than it's L. major counterpart but still account for a significant functional activity in the parasite. The model obtained will help in the design of mutagenesis experiments aimed to elucidate the mechanism of gene expression in trypanosomatids and serve as a starting point for its exploration as a potential source of targets for a rational chemotherapy.