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J Mol Model. 2011 Apr;17(4):727-37. doi: 10.1007/s00894-010-0773-x. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

Dynamical insight into Caenorhabditis elegans eIF4E recognition specificity for mono-and trimethylated structures of mRNA 5' cap.

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Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland.


Specific recognition and binding of the ribonucleic acid 5' termini (mRNA 5' cap) by the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) is a key, rate limiting step in translation initiation. Contrary to mammalian and yeast eIF4Es that discriminate in favor of 7-methylguanosine cap, three out of five eIF4E isoforms from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as well as eIF4Es from the parasites Schistosome mansoni and Ascaris suum, exhibit dual binding specificity for both 7-methylguanosine-and N(2),N(2),7-trimethylguanosine cap. To address the problem of the differences in the mechanism of the cap recognition by those highly homologic proteins, we carried out molecular dynamics simulations in water of three factors, IFE-3 and IFE-5 isoforms from C. elegans and murine eIF4E, in the apo form as well as in the complexes with 7-methyl-GDP and N(2),N(2),7-trimethyl-GDP. The results clearly pointed to a dynamical mechanism of discrimination between each type of the cap, viz. differences in mobility of the loops located at the entrance into the protein binding pockets during the cap association and dissociation. Additionally, our data showed that the hydrogen bond involving the N(2)-amino group of 7-methylguanosine and the carboxylate of glutamic acid was not stable. The dynamic mechanism proposed here differs from a typical, static one in that the differences in the protein-ligand binding specificity cannot be ascribed to formation and/or disruption of well defined stabilizing contacts.

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