Insights into the molecular mechanism of an ABC transporter: conformational changes in the NBD dimer of MJ0796

A Sofia F Oliveira, António M Baptista, Cláudio M Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the rapid advances in the study of ABC transporters, many fundamental questions linked to ATP binding/hydrolysis and its relation to the transport cycle remain unanswered. In particular, it is still neither clear nor consensual how the ATP energy is used by the nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) to produce mechanical work and drive the substrate translocation. The major conformational changes in the NBDs following ATP hydrolysis during the transport cycle and the role played by the conserved family motifs in harnessing the energy associated with nucleotide hydrolysis are yet unknown. Additionally, the way energy is transmitted from the catalytic to the membrane domains, in order to drive substrate translocation, is also a fundamental question that remains unanswered. Due to the high structure similarities of the NBD architecture throughout the whole ABC family, it is likely that the mechanism of ATP binding, hydrolysis, and communication with the transmembrane domains is similar in all family members, independently of the nature of the transported substrate. In this work, we focused our attention on the consequences of ATP hydrolysis in the NBDs, especially on the structural changes that occur during this process. For that, we use molecular dynamics simulation techniques taking as a starting point the X-ray structure of the MJ0796 dimer from Methanococcus jannaschii. Several potential intermediate states of the ATP hydrolytic cycle are investigated, each consisting of different combinations of nucleotide-bound forms. The results obtained allowed us to identify the conformational rearrangements induced by hydrolysis on the catalytic subunits, as well as the residues involved in this reorganization. The major changes are localized at specific regions of the protein, namely, involving segments 11-19 and 93-124. Additionally, our results together with the knowledge of complete ABC transporter X-ray structures suggest a possible NBD:TMD signal transmission interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5486-96
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2010


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Biocatalysis
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Hydrolysis
  • Methanococcus
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation
  • Nucleotides
  • Phosphates
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Time Factors
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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