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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2007 Nov 14;1(2):e68.

Functional and structural insights revealed by molecular dynamics simulations of an essential RNA editing ligase in Trypanosoma brucei.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA. ramaro@mccammon.ucsd.edu

Abstract

RNA editing ligase 1 (TbREL1) is required for the survival of both the insect and bloodstream forms of Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite responsible for the devastating tropical disease African sleeping sickness. The type of RNA editing that TbREL1 is involved in is unique to the trypanosomes, and no close human homolog is known to exist. In addition, the high-resolution crystal structure revealed several unique features of the active site, making this enzyme a promising target for structure-based drug design. In this work, two 20 ns atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are employed to investigate the dynamics of TbREL1, both with and without the ATP substrate present. The flexibility of the active site, dynamics of conserved residues and crystallized water molecules, and the interactions between TbREL1 and the ATP substrate are investigated and discussed in the context of TbREL1's function. Differences in local and global motion upon ATP binding suggest that two peripheral loops, unique to the trypanosomes, may be involved in interdomain signaling events. Notably, a significant structural rearrangement of the enzyme's active site occurs during the apo simulations, opening an additional cavity adjacent to the ATP binding site that could be exploited in the development of effective inhibitors directed against this protozoan parasite. Finally, ensemble averaged electrostatics calculations over the MD simulations reveal a novel putative RNA binding site, a discovery that has previously eluded scientists. Ultimately, we use the insights gained through the MD simulations to make several predictions and recommendations, which we anticipate will help direct future experimental studies and structure-based drug discovery efforts against this vital enzyme.

PMID:
18060084
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2100368
Free PMC Article
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