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Biophys J. 2013 Aug 6;105(3):732-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2013.06.028.

Flexibility of the bacterial chaperone trigger factor in microsecond-timescale molecular dynamics simulations.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


The bacterial chaperone trigger factor (TF) is the first chaperone to be encountered by a nascent protein chain as it emerges from the ribosome exit tunnel. Experimental results suggest that TF possesses considerable conformational flexibility, and in an attempt to provide an atomic-level view of this flexibility, we have performed independent 1.5-μs molecular dynamics simulations of TF in explicit solvent using two different simulation force fields (OPLS-AA/L and AMBER ff99SB-ILDN). Both simulations indicate that TF possesses tremendous flexibility, with huge excursions from the crystallographic conformation caused by reorientations of the protein's constituent domains; both simulations also predict the formation of extensive contacts between TF's PPIase domain and the Arm 1 domain that is involved in nascent-chain binding. In the OPLS simulation, however, TF rapidly settles into a very compact conformation that persists for at least 1 μs, whereas in the AMBER simulation, it remains highly dynamic; additional simulations in which the two force fields were swapped suggest that these differences are at least partly attributable to sampling issues. The simulation results provide potential rationalizations of a number of experimental observations regarding TF's conformational behavior and have implications for using simulations to model TF's function on translating ribosomes.

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