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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 29;285(5):3053-63. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.056432. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

The conformational transition pathway of ATP binding cassette transporter MsbA revealed by atomistic simulations.

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Department of Chemistry, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Catalysis and Innovative Materials, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.


ATP binding cassette transporters are integral membrane proteins that use the energy released from ATP hydrolysis at the two nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) to translocate a wide variety of substrates through a channel at the two transmembrane domains (TMDs) across the cell membranes. MsbA from Gram-negative bacteria is a lipid and multidrug resistance ATP binding cassette exporter that can undergo large scale conformational changes between the outward-facing and the inward-facing conformations revealed by crystal structures in different states. Here, we use targeted molecular dynamics simulation methods to explore the atomic details of the conformational transition from the outward-facing to the inward-facing states of MsbA. The molecular dynamics trajectories revealed a clear spatiotemporal order of the conformational movements. The disruption of the nucleotide binding sites at the NBD dimer interface is the very first event that initiates the following conformational changes, verifying the assumption that the conformational conversion is triggered by ATP hydrolysis. The conserved x-loops of the NBDs were identified to participate in the interaction network that stabilizes the cytoplasmic tetrahelix bundle of the TMDs and play an important role in mediating the cross-talk between the NBD and TMD. The movement of the NBD dimer is transmitted through x-loops to break the tetrahelix bundle, inducing the packing rearrangements of the transmembrane helices at the cytoplasmic side and the periplasmic side sequentially. The packing rearrangement within each periplasmic wing of TMD that results in exposure of the substrate binding sites occurred at the end stage of the trajectory, preventing the wrong timing of the binding site accessibility.

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