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J Mol Biol. 2011 Jan 7;405(1):298-314. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2010.10.051. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

PDZ binding to the BAR domain of PICK1 is elucidated by coarse-grained molecular dynamics.

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Baker Laboratory of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-1301, USA.


A key regulator of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptor traffic, PICK1 is known to interact with over 40 other proteins, including receptors, transporters and ionic channels, and to be active mostly as a homodimer. The current lack of a complete PICK1 structure determined at atomic resolution hinders the elucidation of its functional mechanisms. Here, we identify interactions between the component PDZ and BAR domains of PICK1 by calculating possible binding sites for the PDZ domain of PICK1 (PICK1-PDZ) to the homology-modeled, crescent-shaped dimer of the PICK1-BAR domain using multiplexed replica-exchange molecular dynamics (MREMD) and canonical molecular dynamics simulations with the coarse-grained UNRES force field. The MREMD results show that the preferred binding site for the single PDZ domain is the concave cavity of the BAR dimer. A second possible binding site is near the N-terminus of the BAR domain that is linked directly to the PDZ domain. Subsequent short canonical molecular dynamics simulations used to determine how the PICK1-PDZ domain moves to the preferred binding site on the BAR domain of PICK1 revealed that initial hydrophobic interactions drive the progress of the simulated binding. Thus, the concave face of the BAR dimer accommodates the PDZ domain first by weak hydrophobic interactions and then the PDZ domain slides to the center of the concave face, where more favorable hydrophobic interactions take over.

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