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Protein Sci. 2001 Jul;10(7):1403-14.

Enzyme specificity under dynamic control II: Principal component analysis of alpha-lytic protease using global and local solvent boundary conditions.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0448, USA.


The contributions of conformational dynamics to substrate specificity have been examined by the application of principal component analysis to molecular dynamics trajectories of alpha-lytic protease. The wild-type alpha-lytic protease is highly specific for substrates with small hydrophobic side chains at the specificity pocket, while the Met190-->Ala binding pocket mutant has a much broader specificity, actively hydrolyzing substrates ranging from Ala to Phe. Based on a combination of multiconformation analysis of cryo-X-ray crystallographic data, solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and normal mode calculations, we had hypothesized that the large alteration in specificity of the mutant enzyme is mainly attributable to changes in the dynamic movement of the two walls of the specificity pocket. To test this hypothesis, we performed a principal component analysis using 1-nanosecond molecular dynamics simulations using either a global or local solvent boundary condition. The results of this analysis strongly support our hypothesis and verify the results previously obtained by in vacuo normal mode analysis. We found that the walls of the wild-type substrate binding pocket move in tandem with one another, causing the pocket size to remain fixed so that only small substrates are recognized. In contrast, the M190A mutant shows uncoupled movement of the binding pocket walls, allowing the pocket to sample both smaller and larger sizes, which appears to be the cause of the observed broad specificity. The results suggest that the protein dynamics of alpha-lytic protease may play a significant role in defining the patterns of substrate specificity. As shown here, concerted local movements within proteins can be efficiently analyzed through a combination of principal component analysis and molecular dynamics trajectories using a local solvent boundary condition to reduce computational time and matrix size.

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