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Biophys J. 2012 Jul 3;103(1):79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.05.047.

The dynamic structure of thrombin in solution.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.


The backbone dynamics of human α-thrombin inhibited at the active site serine were analyzed using R(1), R(2), and heteronuclear NOE experiments, variable temperature TROSY 2D [(1)H-(15)N] correlation spectra, and R(ex) measurements. The N-terminus of the heavy chain, which is formed upon zymogen activation and inserts into the protein core, is highly ordered, as is much of the double beta-barrel core. Some of the surface loops, by contrast, remain very dynamic with order parameters as low as 0.5 indicating significant motions on the ps-ns timescale. Regions of the protein that were thought to be dynamic in the zymogen and to become rigid upon activation, in particular the γ-loop, the 180s loop, and the Na(+) binding site have order parameters below 0.8. Significant R(ex) was observed in most of the γ-loop, in regions proximal to the light chain, and in the β-sheet core. Accelerated molecular dynamics simulations yielded a molecular ensemble consistent with measured residual dipolar couplings that revealed dynamic motions up to milliseconds. Several regions, including the light chain and two proximal loops, did not appear highly dynamic on the ps-ns timescale, but had significant motions on slower timescales.

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