Hraber, P., O’Maille, P.E., Silberfarb, A., Davis-Anderson, K., Generous, N., McMahon, B.H. & Fair, J.M. Resources to Discover and Use Short Linear Motifs in Viral Proteins. Trends in biotechnology (2019).
Viral proteins evade host immune function by molecular mimicry, often achieved by short linear motifs (SLiMs) of three to ten consecutive amino acids (AAs). Motif mimicry tolerates mutations, evolves quickly to modify interactions with the host, and enables modular interactions with protein complexes. Host cells cannot easily coordinate changes to conserved motif recognition and binding interfaces under selective pressure to maintain critical signaling pathways. SLiMs offer potential for use in synthetic biology, such as better immunogens and therapies, but may also present biosecurity challenges. We survey viral uses of SLiMs to mimic host proteins, and information resources available for motif discovery. As the number of examples continues to grow, knowledge management tools are essential to help organize and compare new findings.