Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1823–1834 | Cite as

Impact of missense mutations in survival motor neuron protein (SMN1) leading to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA): A computational approach

  • P. Sneha
  • Tanzila U. Zenith
  • Ummay Salma Abu Habib
  • Judith Evangeline
  • D. Thirumal Kumar
  • C. George Priya DossEmail author
  • R. Siva
  • Hatem ZayedEmail author
Original Article


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neuromuscular disorder caused by the mutations in survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1). The molecular pathology of missense mutations in SMN1 is not thoroughly investigated so far. Therefore, we collected all missense mutations in the SMN1 protein, using all possible search terms, from three databases (PubMed, PMC and Google Scholar). All missense mutations were subjected to in silico pathogenicity, conservation, and stability analysis tools. We used statistical analysis as a QC measure for validating the specificity and accuracy of these tools. PolyPhen-2 demonstrated the highest specificity and accuracy. While PolyPhen-1 showed the highest sensitivity; overall, PolyPhen2 showed better measures in comparison to other in silico tools. Three mutations (D44V, Y272C, and Y277C) were identified as the most pathogenic and destabilizing. Further, we compared the physiochemical properties of the native and the mutant amino acids and observed loss of H-bonds and aromatic stacking upon the cysteine to tyrosine substitution, which led to the loss of aromatic rings and may reduce protein stability. The three mutations were further subjected to Molecular Dynamics Simulation (MDS) analysis using GROMACS to understand the structural changes. The Y272C and Y277C mutants exhibited maximum deviation pattern from the native protein as compared to D44V mutant. Further MDS analysis predicted changes in the stability that may have been contributed due to the loss of hydrogen bonds as observed in intramolecular hydrogen bond analysis and physiochemical analysis. A loss of function/structural impact was found to be severe in the case of Y272C and Y277C mutants in comparison to D44V mutation. Correlating the results from in silico predictions, physiochemical analysis, and MDS, we were able to observe a loss of stability in all the three mutants. This combinatorial approach could serve as a platform for variant interpretation and drug design for spinal muscular dystrophy resulting from missense mutations.


Spinal muscular atrophy Variant classification SMN1 Pathogenicity Stability Molecular dynamic simulation Variant interpretations and classification 



The authors acknowledge the management of Vellore Institute of Technology for the seed money and (BRAF) @ CDAC for providing the facilities.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Bio Sciences and TechnologyVellore Institute of TechnologyVelloreIndia
  2. 2.College of Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical SciencesQatar UniversityDohaQatar

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