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J Phys Chem B. 2011 Mar 17;115(10):2470-6. doi: 10.1021/jp1122294. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Clarification of the mechanism of acylation reaction and origin of substrate specificity of the serine-carboxyl peptidase sedolisin through QM/MM free energy simulations.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 3799, USA.


Quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) free energy simulations are applied for understanding the mechanism of the acylation reaction catalyzed by sedolisin, a representative serine-carboxyl peptidase, leading to the acyl-enzyme (AE) and first product from the enzyme-catalyzed reaction. One of the interesting questions to be addressed in this work is the origin of the substrate specificity of sedolisin that shows a relatively high activity on the substrates with Glu at P(1) site. It is shown that the bond making and breaking events of the acylation reaction involving a peptide substrate (LLE*FL) seem to be accompanied by local conformational changes, proton transfers as well as the formation of alternative hydrogen bonds. The results of the simulations indicate that the conformational change of Glu at P(1) site and its formation of a low barrier hydrogen bond with Asp-170 (along with the transient proton transfer) during the acylation reaction might play a role in the relatively high specificity for the substrate with Glu at P(1) site. The role of some key residues in the catalysis is confirmed through free energy simulations. Glu-80 is found to act as a general base to accept a proton from Ser-287 during the nucleophilic attack and then as a general acid to protonate the leaving group (N-H of P(1')-Phe) during the cleavage of the scissile peptide bond. Another acidic residue, Asp-170, acts as a general acid catalyst to protonate the carbonyl of P(1)-Glu during the formation of the tetrahedral intermediate and as a general base for the formation of the acyl-enzyme. The energetic results from the free energy simulations support the importance of proton transfer from Asp-170 to the carbonyl of P(1)-Glu in the stabilization of the tetrahedral intermediate and the formation of a low-barrier hydrogen bond between the carboxyl group of P(1)-Glu and Asp-170 in the lowering of the free energy barrier for the cleavage of the peptide bond. Detailed analyses of the proton transfers during acylation are also given.

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