Investigation of the mechanism of domain closure in citrate synthase by molecular dynamics simulation

Danilo Roccatano, Alan E. Mark, Steven J. Hayward

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Six, 2 ns molecular dynamics simulations have been performed on the homodimeric enzyme citrate synthase. In three, both monomers were started from the open, unliganded X-ray conformation. In the remaining three, both monomers started from a closed, liganded X-ray conformation, with the ligands removed. Projecting the motion from the simulations onto the experimental domain motion revealed that the free-energy profile is rather flat around the open conformation, with steep sides. The most closed conformations correspond to hinge-bending angles of 12–14 ° compared to the 20 ° that occurs upon the binding of oxaloacetate. It is also found that the open, unliganded X-ray conformation is situated at the edge of the steep rise in free energy, although conformations that are about 5 ° more open were sampled. A rigid-body essential dynamics analysis of the combined open trajectories has shown that domain motions in the direction of the closed X-ray conformation are compatible with the natural domain motion of the unliganded protein, which has just two main degrees of freedom. The simulations starting from the closed conformation suggest a free-energy profile with a small barrier in going from the closed to open conformation. A combined essential dynamics and hinge-bending analysis of a trajectory that spontaneously converts from the closed to open state shows an almost exact correspondence to the experimental transition that occurs upon ligand binding. The simulations support the conclusion from an earlier analysis of the experimental transition that the β-hairpin acts as a mechanical hinge by attaching the small domain to the large domain through a conserved main-chain hydrogen bond and salt-bridges, and allowing rotation to occur via its two flexible termini. The results point to a mechanism of domain closure in citrate synthase that has analogy to the process of closing a door.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1053
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2001

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