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J Chem Inf Model. 2012 May 25;52(5):1308-18. doi: 10.1021/ci3001327. Epub 2012 May 7.

Elements of nucleotide specificity in the Trypanosoma brucei mitochondrial RNA editing enzyme RET2.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California , San Diego, 3234 Urey Hall, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC-0340 La Jolla, California 92093-0332, USA.


The causative agent of African sleeping sickness, Trypanosoma brucei , undergoes an unusual mitochondrial RNA editing process that is essential for its survival. RNA editing terminal uridylyl transferase 2 of T. brucei (TbRET2) is an indispensable component of the editosome machinery that performs this editing. TbRET2 is required to maintain the vitality of both the insect and bloodstream forms of the parasite, and with its high-resolution crystal structure, it poses as a promising pharmaceutical target. Neither the exclusive requirement of uridine 5'-triphosphate (UTP) for catalysis, nor the RNA primer preference of TbRET2 is well-understood. Using all-atom explicitly solvated molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we investigated the effect of UTP binding on TbRET2 structure and dynamics, as well as the determinants governing TbRET2's exclusive UTP preference. Through our investigations of various nucleoside triphosphate substrates (NTPs), we show that UTP preorganizes the binding site through an extensive water-mediated H-bonding network, bringing Glu424 and Arg144 side chains to an optimum position for RNA primer binding. In contrast, cytosine 5'-triphosphate (CTP) and adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) cannot achieve this preorganization and thus preclude productive RNA primer binding. Additionally, we have located ligand-binding "hot spots" of TbRET2 based on the MD conformational ensembles and computational fragment mapping. TbRET2 reveals different binding pockets in the apo and UTP-bound MD simulations, which could be targeted for inhibitor design.

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