Keywords: bioinformatics, proteins, carnivorous plant, network analysis
Carnivorous plants possess diverse sets of enzymes with novel functionalities applicable to biotechnology, proteomics, and bioanalytical research. We compare enzymes from the genome of the carnivorous plant Drosera capensis to those from related carnivorous plants and model organisms. We use a combination of comparative and de novo structure prediction, followed by in silico maturation and molecular dynamics simulation, to produce models of the mature forms of these proteins in aqueous solution. By utilizing network analytic techniques, we identify structurally distinct subgroups of proteins for subsequent experimental characterization. Our work demonstrates how computational techniques can facilitate quickly moving from raw sequence data to refined structural models and comparative analysis, and to select promising candidates for subsequent biochemical characterization. This capability is increasingly important given the large and growing body of data from high-throughput genome sequencing, which makes experimental characterization of every target impractical. Target selection protocols and application to proteases, chitinases, and phospolipases will be discussed.