Structure and Function in Homodimeric Enzymes: Simulations of Cooperative and Independent Functional Motions

Stephen Wells, Marc Van der Kamp, John Mcgeagh, Adrian Mulholland

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

16 Citations (Scopus)
307 Downloads (Pure)


Large-scale conformational change is a common feature in the catalytic cycles of enzymes. Many enzymes function as homodimers with active sites that contain elements from both chains. Symmetric and anti-symmetric cooperative motions in homodimers can potentially lead to correlated active site opening and/or closure, likely to be important for ligand binding and release. Here, we examine such motions in two different domain-swapped homodimeric enzymes: the DcpS scavenger decapping enzyme and citrate synthase. We use and compare two types of all-atom simulations: conventional molecular dynamics simulations to identify physically meaningful conformational ensembles, and rapid geometric simulations of flexible motion, biased along normal mode directions, to identify relevant motions encoded in the protein structure. The results indicate that the opening/closure motions are intrinsic features of both unliganded enzymes. In DcpS, conformational change is dominated by an anti-symmetric cooperative motion, causing one active site to close as the other opens; however a symmetric motion is also significant. In CS, we identify that both symmetric (suggested by crystallography) and asymmetric motions are features of the protein structure, and as a result the behaviour in solution is largely non-cooperative. The agreement between two modelling approaches using very different levels of theory indicates that the behaviours are indeed intrinsic to the protein structures. Geometric simulations correctly identify and explore large amplitudes of motion, while molecular dynamics simulations indicate the ranges of motion that are energetically feasible. Together, the simulation approaches are able to reveal unexpected functionally relevant motions, and highlight differences between enzymes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0133372
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2015

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