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Biochemistry. 1992 Sep 22;31(37):8691-6.

On the mechanism of guanosine triphosphate hydrolysis in ras p21 proteins.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-1062.


The residue Gln61 is assumed to play a major role in the mechanism of ras p21, and mutations of this residue are often found in human tumors. Such mutations lead to a major reduction in the rate of GTP hydrolysis by the complex of ras p21 and the GTPase activating protein (GAP) and lock the protein in a growth-promoting state. This work examines the role of Gln61 in ras p21 by using computer simulation approaches to correlate the structure and energetics of this system. Free energy perturbation calculations and simpler electrostatic considerations demonstrate that Gln61 is unlikely to serve as the general base in the intrinsic GAP-independent reaction of p21. Glutamine is already a very weak base in water, and surprisingly the GlnH+ OH-reaction intermediate is even less stable in the protein active site than in the corresponding reaction in water. The electrostatic field of Glu63, which could in principle stabilize the protonated Gln61, is found to be largely shielded by the surrounding solvent. However, it is still possible that Gln61 is a general base in the GAP/ras p21 complex since this system could enhance the electrostatic effect of Glu63. It is also possible that the gamma-phosphate acts as general base and that Gln61 accelerates the reaction by stabilizing the OH- nucleophile. If such a mechanism is operative, then GAP may enhance the effect of Gln61 by preorienting its hydrogen bonds in the transition-state configuration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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