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Proteins. 2005 Feb 1;58(2):407-17.

Receptor rigidity and ligand mobility in trypsin-ligand complexes.

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Department of Molecular Biology (TPC-6), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The trypsin-like serine proteases comprise a structurally similar family of proteins with a wide diversity of biological functions. Members of this family play roles in digestion, hemostasis, immune responses, and cancer metastasis. Bovine trypsin is an archetypical member of this family that has been extensively characterized both functionally and structurally, and that preferentially hydrolyzes Arg/Lys-Xaa peptide bonds. We have used molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study bovine trypsin complexed with the two noncovalent small-molecule ligands, benzamidine and tranylcypromine, that have the same hydrogen-bond donating moieties as Arg and Lys side-chains, respectively. Multiple (10) simulations ranging from 1 ns to 2.2 ns, with explicit water molecules and periodic boundary conditions, were performed. The simulations reveal that the trypsin binding pocket residues are relatively rigid regardless of whether there is no ligand, a high-affinity ligand (benzamidine), or a low-affinity ligand (tranylcypromine). The thermal average of the conformations sampled by benzamidine bound to trypsin is planar and consistent with the planar internal geometry of the benzamidine crystallographic model coordinates. However, the most probable bound benzamidine conformations are +/-25 degrees out of plane, implying that the observed X-ray electron density represents an average of densities from two mirror symmetric, nonplanar conformations. Solvated benzamidine has free energy minima at +/-45 degrees , and the induction of a more planar geometry upon binding is associated with approximately 1 kcal/mol of intramolecular strain. Tranylcypromine's hydrogen-bonding pattern in the MD differs substantially from that inferred from the X-ray electron density. Early in simulations of this system, tranylcypromine adopts an alternative binding conformation, changing from the crystallographic conformation, with a direct hydrogen bond between its amino moiety and the backbone oxygen of Gly219, to one having a bridging water molecule. This result is consistently seen with the CHARMM22, Amber, or OPLS-AA force fields. The trypsin-tranylcypromine hydrogen-bonding pattern observed in the simulations also occurs as the crystallographic binding mode of the Lys15 side-chain of bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor bound to trypsin. In this latter cocrystal, a bridging crystallographic water does reside between the side-chain's amino group and the trypsin Gly219 backbone oxygen. Furthermore, the trypsin-tranylcypromine simulations sample two different stable noncrystallographic binding poses. These data suggest that some of the electron density ascribed to tranylcypromine in the X-ray model is rather due to a bound water molecule, and that multiple tranylcypromine binding conformations (crystallographic disorder) may be the cause of ambiguous electron density. The combined trypsin-benzamidine and trypsin- tranylcypromine results highlight the ability of simulations to augment protein-ligand complex structural data by deconvoluting the effects of thermal and structural averaging, and by finding energetically optimal ligand and bound water positions for weakly bound ligands.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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