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Biopolymers. 1996 Jul;39(1):85-94.

Acetylcholinesterase: role of the enzyme's charge distribution in steering charged ligands toward the active site.

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1
Department of Chemistry, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0365, USA.

Abstract

The electrostatic steering of charged ligands toward the active site of Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase is investigated by Brownian dynamics simulations of wild type enzyme and several mutated forms, in which some normally charged residues are neutralized. The simulations reveal that the total ligand influx through a surface of 42 A radius centered in the enzyme monomer and separated from the protein surface by 1-14 A is not significantly influenced by electrostatic interactions. Electrostatic effects are visible for encounters with a surface of 32 A radius, which is partially hidden inside the protein, but mostly within the solvent. A clear accumulation of encounter events for that sphere is observed in the area directly above the entrance to the active site gorge. In this area, the encounter events are increased by 40% compared to the case of a neutral ligand. However, the differences among the encounter rates for the various mutants considered here are not pronounced, all rate constants being within +/- 10% of the average value. The enzyme charge distribution becomes more important as the charged ligand moves toward the bottom of the gorge, where the active site is located. We show that neither the enzyme's total charge, nor its dipole moment, fully account for the electrostatic steering of ligand to the active site. Higher moments of the enzyme's charge distribution are also important. However, for a series of mutations for which the direction of the enzyme dipole moment is constant within a few degrees, one observes a gradual decrease in the diffusional encounter rate constant with the number of neutralized residues. On the other hand, for other mutants that change the direction of the dipole moment from that of the wild type, the calculated encounter rate constants can be very close to that of the wild type. The present work yields two new insights to the kinetics of acetylcholinesterase. First, evolution appears to have built a redundant electrostatic steering capability into this important enzyme through the overall distribution of its thousands of partially charged atoms. And second, roughly half of the rate enhancement due to electrostatics arises from steering of the substrate outside the enzyme; the other half of the rate enhancement arises from improved trapping of the substrate after it has entered the gorge. The computational results reproduce qualitatively, and help to rationalize, many surprising experimental results obtained recently for human acetylcholinesterase.

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