QM/MM free-energy simulations of reaction in serratia marcescens chitinase b reveal the protonation state of asp142 and the critical role of tyr214

Jitrayut Jitonnom*, Michael A L Limb, Adrian J. Mulholland

*Corresponding author for this work

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

31 Citations (Scopus)


Serratia marcescens Chitinase B (ChiB), belonging to the glycosidase family 18 (GH18), catalyzes the hydrolysis of β-1,4-glycosidic bond, with retention of configuration, via an unusual substrate-assisted mechanism, in which the substrate itself acts as an intramolecular nucleophile. Here, both elementary steps (glycosylation and deglycosylation) of the ChiB-catalyzed reaction are investigated by means of combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) umbrella sampling molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at the SCC-DFTB/CHARMM22 level of theory. We examine the influence of the Asp142 protonation state on the reaction and the role that this residue performs in the reaction. Our simulations show that reaction with a neutral Asp142 is preferred and demonstrate that this residue provides electrostatic stabilization of the oxazolinium ion intermediate formed in the reaction. Insight into the conformational itinerary (1,4B ?4H5? 4C1) adopted by the substrate (bound in subsite -1) along the preferred reaction pathway is also provided by the simulations. The relative energies of the stationary points found along the reaction pathway calculated with SCC-DFTB and B3LYP were compared. The results suggest that SCC-DFTB is an accurate method for estimating the relative barriers for both steps of the reaction; however, it was found to overestimate the relative energy of an intermediate formed in the reaction when compared with the higher level of theory. Glycosylation is suggested to be a rate-determining step in the reaction with calculated overall reaction free-energy barrier of 20.5 kcal/mol, in a reasonable agreement with the 16.1 kcal/mol barrier derived from the experiment. The role of Tyr214 in catalysis was also investigated with the results, indicating that the residue plays a critical role in the deglycosylation step of the reaction. Simulations of the enzyme-product complex were also performed with an unbinding event suggested to have been observed, affording potential new mechanistic insight into the release of the product of ChiB. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4771-4783
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2014

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