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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1982 Oct;79(20):6137-41.

Conformational flexibility in the active sites of aspartyl proteinases revealed by a pepstatin fragment binding to penicillopepsin.


Crystals of the molecular complex between the esterified tripeptide fragment of pepstatin and the aspartyl proteinase penicillopepsin are isomorphous with crystals of native penicillopepsin. The difference electron-density map at 1.8-A resolution, computed by using the amplitude differences and refined phases of reflections from the crystal of native penicillopepsin, unambiguously showed the binding mode of isovaleryl-Val-Val-StaOEt, where StaOEt is the ethyl ester of statine [(4S,3S)-4-amino-3-hydroxyl-6-methylheptanoic acid]. In addition, a major conformational change in penicillopepsin involving the large beta loop of residues from Trp-71 to Gly-83 (the so-called "flap" region) occurs as a result of this inhibitor binding. This structural movement provides the first confirmation of the importance of enzyme flexibility in the aspartyl proteinase mechanism. The 3-hydroxyl group of the Statine residue and the carbonyl oxygen atom of the ethyl ester are situated on either side of the approximate plane containing the hydrogen-bonded carboxyl groups of Asp-33 and Asp-213. The observed binding mode of the pepstatin tripeptide fragment is similar to that predicted for the binding of good substrates with penicillopepsin [James, M. N. G. (1980) Can. J. Biochem. 58, 251-271].

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