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Proteins. 2007 Jun 1;67(4):868-85.

Hydration of a hydrophobic cavity and its functional role: a simulation study of human interleukin-1beta.

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  • 1Biomolecular Modeling & Design Group, Bioinformatics Institute, Singapore 138671.


Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the hydrophobic cavity in human cytokine Interleukin-1beta is hydrated and can dynamically accommodate between one and four water molecules. These waters have residence times >> 500 ps and can give rise to detectable NOEs, in agreement with NMR observations of Ernst et al. (Science 1995; 267:1813-1817). The waters also display high positional disorder within the cavity, which explains why they have not been resolved crystallographically. The average distribution of water molecules over time within the cavity matches well the low resolution electron density extracted by Yu et al. (Proc Natl Acad Sci 1999; 96:103-108). The water molecules hydrate the hydrophobic cavity preferentially as complex clusters. These clusters result from a combination of hydrogen bonds between the waters and stabilizing interactions between the waters and aromatic rings forming the cavity. Free energy estimates suggest that it takes 4-waters to hydrate the cavity in a thermodynamically stable manner leading to a gain in free energy of transfer from bulk of approximately approximately 3.6 kcal/mol. This arises from the existence of the water clusters in multiple hydrogen bonded states. In addition, the waters are found to migrate either individually or as clusters out of the cavity through several pathways. The upper limit for one-dimensional diffusion of the waters within the protein matrix is 4 A/ps (relative to 6 A/ps for bulk). Simulations reveal pathways in addition to those identified crystallographically, with motions controlled by the rotations of sidechains. We find that only when the hydrophobic cavity is hydrated, do correlated motions couple distant sites with the sites that make contact with the receptor and this data partly offers an explanation of experimental mutagenesis data. Simulations, together with recent observations based on mutagenesis by Heidary et al. (J Mol Biol 2005; 353:1187-1198) that hydrogen bond networks couple motions across long distances in interleukin-1beta, lead us to hypothesize that the hydration of the cavity (conserved across mammals) can thermodynamically enhance hydrogen bond networks to enable coupling across long distances by acting as a plug and this in turn enables a kinetic control of the rate of transmission of signals.

2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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