The investigation of nonsynonymous SNPs of human SLC6A4 gene associated with depression: an in silico approach

Elsevier, CellPress, Heliyon, Volume 7, Issue 8, August 2021, e07815

Abstract

Genetic polymorphism of the SLC6A4 gene is associated with several behavioral disorders, including depression. Since studying the total nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) of the SLC6A4 gene at the population level is a difficult task, we aim to utilize in silico approach to detect the most deleterious nsSNPs of the SLC6A4 gene. In our study, 7 computational tools were used in the initial stage, including SIFT, Polyphen-2, PROVEAN, SNAP2, PhD-SNP, PANTHER, and SNPs&GO to find out the most damaging nsSNPs. In the second phase, we performed structural, functional, and stability analysis of SLC6A4 protein by popular computation tools, including I-Mutant 2.0 and MutPred2. Also, the ConSurf server was utilized to find the conserved region of the SLC6A4 protein to determine the relationship between these conserved regions with high-risk nsSNPs. Based on these analyses, 5 high-risk mutations of the SLC6A4 protein were selected. Then, we carried out comparative modeling by using the Robetta server and aligned the mutant protein model with the native protein structure. Later, we performed the post-translational modification and functional domain analysis of the SLC6A4 protein. This study concludes that Arginine → Tryptophan at position 79 and Arginine → Cysteine at position 104 are the two significant mutations in SLC6A4 protein which might play an essential role in causing diseases. Future studies should take these high-risk nsSNPs (rs1221448303, rs200953188) into consideration while exploring diseases related to the SLC6A4 gene. Besides, our research is the first-ever comprehensive in silico investigation of the SLC6A4 gene. Thus, the findings of this study could be beneficial for developing precision medicines against diseases caused by SLC6A4 malfunction. Furthermore, extensive wet-lab research and experiments on various model organisms might be helpful to investigate the precise role of these damaging nsSNPs of the SLC6A4 gene.