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Protein Sci. 2013 Nov;22(11):1490-501. doi: 10.1002/pro.2332. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Substrate-dependent dynamics of UDP-galactopyranose mutase: Implications for drug design.

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


Trypanosoma cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease that represents one of the major health challenges of the Latin American countries. Successful efforts were made during the last few decades to control the transmission of this disease, but there is still no treatment for the 10 million adults in the chronic phase of the disease. In T. cruzi, as well as in other pathogens, the flavoenzyme UDP-galactopyranose mutase (UGM) catalyzes the conversion of UDP-galactopyranose to UDP-galactofuranose, a precursor of the cell surface β-galactofuranose that is involved in the virulence of the pathogen. The fact that UGM is not present in humans makes inhibition of this enzyme a good approach in the design of new Chagas therapeutics. By performing a series of computer simulations of T. cruzi UGM in the presence or absence of an active site ligand, we address the molecular details of the mechanism that controls the uptake and retention of the substrate. The simulations suggest a modular mechanism in which each moiety of the substrate controls the flexibility of a different protein loop. Furthermore, the calculations indicate that interactions with the substrate diphosphate moiety are especially important for stabilizing the closed active site. This hypothesis is supported with kinetics measurements of site-directed mutants of T. cruzi UGM. Our results extend our knowledge of UGM dynamics and offer new alternatives for the prospective design of drugs.


MD; UDP-galactopyranose mutase; UGM; accelerated molecular dynamics; inhibitor design

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