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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 10;134(40):16562-70. doi: 10.1021/ja3032482. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Modulation of a pre-existing conformational equilibrium tunes adenylate kinase activity.

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Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biological Center, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


Structural plasticity is often required for distinct microscopic steps during enzymatic reaction cycles. Adenylate kinase from Escherichia coli (AK(eco)) populates two major conformations in solution; the open (inactive) and closed (active) state, and the overall turnover rate is inversely proportional to the lifetime of the active conformation. Therefore, structural plasticity is intimately coupled to enzymatic turnover in AK(eco). Here, we probe the open to closed conformational equilibrium in the absence of bound substrate with NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. The conformational equilibrium in absence of substrate and, in turn, the turnover number can be modulated with mutational- and osmolyte-driven perturbations. Removal of one hydrogen bond between the ATP and AMP binding subdomains results in a population shift toward the open conformation and a resulting increase of k(cat). Addition of the osmolyte TMAO to AK(eco) results in population shift toward the closed conformation and a significant reduction of k(cat). The Michaelis constants (K(M)) scale with the change in k(cat), which follows from the influence of the population of the closed conformation for substrate binding affinity. Hence, k(cat) and K(M) are mutually dependent, and in the case of AK(eco), any perturbation that modulates k(cat) is mirrored with a proportional response in K(M). Thus, our results demonstrate that the equilibrium constant of a pre-existing conformational equilibrium directly affects enzymatic catalysis. From an evolutionary perspective, our findings suggest that, for AK(eco), there exists ample flexibility to obtain a specificity constant (k(cat)/K(M)) that commensurate with the exerted cellular selective pressure.

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