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Biophys J. 2012 Oct 17;103(8):1784-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.08.058. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Long-timescale molecular dynamics simulations elucidate the dynamics and kinetics of exposure of the hydrophobic patch in troponin C.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.


Troponin (Tn) is an important regulatory protein in the thin-filament complex of cardiomyocytes. Calcium binding to the troponin C (TnC) subunit causes a change in its dynamics that leads to the transient opening of a hydrophobic patch on TnC's surface, to which a helix of another subunit, troponin I (TnI), binds. This process initiates contraction, making it an important target for studies investigating the detailed molecular processes that underlie contraction. Here we use microsecond-timescale Anton molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the dynamics and kinetics of the opening transition of the TnC hydrophobic patch. Free-energy differences for opening are calculated for wild-type Ca(2+)-bound TnC (∼8 kcal/mol), V44Q Ca(2+)-bound TnC (3.2 kcal/mol), E40A Ca(2+)-bound TnC (∼12 kcal/mol), and wild-type apo TnC (∼20 kcal/mol). These results suggest that the mutations have a profound impact on the frequency with which the hydrophobic patch presents to TnI. In addition, these simulations corroborate that cardiac wild-type TnC does not open on timescales relevant to contraction without calcium being bound.

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