2016 Volume 13 Pages 157-163
Functional sites on proteins play an important role in various molecular interactions and reactions between proteins and other molecules. Thus, mutations in functional sites can severely affect the overall phenotype. Progress of genome sequencing projects has yielded a wealth of information on single nucleotide variants (SNVs), especially those with less than 1% minor allele frequency (rare variants). To understand the functional influence of genetic variants at a protein level, we investigated the relationship between SNVs and protein functional sites in terms of minor allele frequency and the structural position of variants. As a result, we observed that SNVs were less abundant at ligand binding sites, which is consistent with a previous study on SNVs and protein interaction sites. Additionally, we found that non-rare variants tended to be located slightly apart from enzyme active sites. Examination of non-rare variants revealed that most of the mutations resulted in moderate changes of the physico-chemical properties of amino acids, suggesting the existence of functional constraints. In conclusion, this study shows that the mapping of genetic variants on protein structures could be a powerful approach to evaluate the functional impact of rare genetic variations.