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J Comput Aided Mol Des. 2014 Dec;28(12):1233-45. doi: 10.1007/s10822-014-9799-y. Epub 2014 Oct 10.

Investigation of the intermolecular recognition mechanism between the E3 ubiquitin ligase Keap1 and substrate based on multiple substrates analysis.

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State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, 210009, China.


E3 ubiquitin ligases are attractive drug targets due to their specificity to the ubiquitin machinery. However, the development of E3 ligase inhibitors has proven challenging for the fact that they must disrupt protein-protein interactions (PPIs). The E3 ligase involved in interactome provide new hope for the discovery of the E3 ligase inhibitors. These currently known natural binding partners of the E3 ligase can benefit the discovery of other unknown substrates and also the E3 ligase inhibitors. Herein, we present a novel strategy that using multiple substrates to elucidate the molecular recognition mechanism of E3 ubiquitin ligase. Molecular dynamics simulation, molecular mechanics-generalized born surface area (MM-GBSA) binding energy calculation and energy decomposition scheme were incorporated to evaluate the quantitative contributions of sub-pocket and per-residue to binding. In this case, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein-1 (Keap1), a substrate adaptor component of the Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases complex, is applied for the investigation of how it recognize its substrates, especially Nrf2, a master regulator of the antioxidant response. By analyzing multiple substrates binding determinants, we found that both the polar sub-pockets (P1 and P2) and the nonpolar sub-pockets (P4 and P5) of Keap1 can make remarkable contributions to intermolecular interactions. This finding stresses the requirement for substrates to interact with the polar and nonpolar sub-pockets simultaneously. The results discussed in this paper not only show the binding determinants of the Keap1 substrates but also provide valuable implications for both Keap1 substrate discovery and PPI inhibitor design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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