Catalytic Site pKa Values of Aspartic, Cysteine, and Serine Proteases: Constant pH MD Simulations.
ABSTRACT: Enzymatic function and activity of proteases is closely controlled by the pH value. The protonation states of titratable residues in the active site react to changes in the pH value, according to their pKa, and thereby determine the functionality of the enzyme. Knowledge of the titration behavior of these residues is crucial for the development of drugs targeting the active site residues. However, experimental pKa data are scarce, since the systems' size and complexity make determination of these pKa values inherently difficult. In this study, we use single pH constant pH MD simulations as a fast and robust tool to estimate the active site pKa values of a set of aspartic, cysteine, and serine proteases. We capture characteristic pKa shifts of the active site residues, which dictate the experimentally determined activity profiles of the respective protease family. We find clear differences of active site pKa values within the respective families, which closely match the experimentally determined pH preferences of the respective proteases. These shifts are caused by a distinct network of electrostatic interactions characteristic for each protease family. While we find convincing agreement with experimental data for serine and aspartic proteases, we observe clear deficiencies in the description of the titration behavior of cysteines within the constant pH MD framework and highlight opportunities for improvement. Consequently, with this work, we provide a concise set of active site pKa values of aspartic and serine proteases, which could serve as reference for future theoretical as well as experimental studies.
Project description:The small multidrug resistance transporter EmrE is a homodimer that uses energy provided by the proton motive force to drive the efflux of drug substrates. The pKa values of its "active-site" residues--glutamate 14 (Glu14) from each subunit--must be poised around physiological pH values to efficiently couple proton import to drug export in vivo. To assess the protonation of EmrE, pH titrations were conducted with (1)H-(15)N TROSY-HSQC nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra. Analysis of these spectra indicates that the Glu14 residues have asymmetric pKa values of 7.0 ± 0.1 and 8.2 ± 0.3 at 45°C and 6.8 ± 0.1 and 8.5 ± 0.2 at 25°C. These pKa values are substantially increased compared with typical pKa values for solvent-exposed glutamates but are within the range of published Glu14 pKa values inferred from the pH dependence of substrate binding and transport assays. The active-site mutant, E14D-EmrE, has pKa values below the physiological pH range, consistent with its impaired transport activity. The NMR spectra demonstrate that the protonation states of the active-site Glu14 residues determine both the global structure and the rate of conformational exchange between inward- and outward-facing EmrE. Thus, the pKa values of the asymmetric active-site Glu14 residues are key for proper coupling of proton import to multidrug efflux. However, the results raise new questions regarding the coupling mechanism because they show that EmrE exists in a mixture of protonation states near neutral pH and can interconvert between inward- and outward-facing forms in multiple different protonation states.
Project description:Neutron crystallography was used to directly locate two protons before and after a pH-induced two-proton transfer between catalytic aspartic acid residues and the hydroxy group of the bound clinical drug darunavir, located in the catalytic site of enzyme HIV-1 protease. The two-proton transfer is triggered by electrostatic effects arising from protonation state changes of surface residues far from the active site. The mechanism and pH effect are supported by quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) calculations. The low-pH proton configuration in the catalytic site is deemed critical for the catalytic action of this enzyme and may apply more generally to other aspartic proteases. Neutrons therefore represent a superb probe to obtain structural details for proton transfer reactions in biological systems at a truly atomic level.
Project description:The mutualism between leaf-cutting ants and their fungal symbionts revolves around processing and inoculation of fresh leaf pulp in underground fungus gardens, mediated by ant fecal fluid deposited on the newly added plant substrate. As herbivorous feeding often implies that growth is nitrogen limited, we cloned and sequenced six fungal proteases found in the fecal fluid of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior and identified them as two metalloendoproteases, two serine proteases and two aspartic proteases. The metalloendoproteases and serine proteases showed significant activity in fecal fluid at pH values of 5-7, but the aspartic proteases were inactive across a pH range of 3-10. Protease activity disappeared when the ants were kept on a sugar water diet without fungus. Relative to normal mycelium, both metalloendoproteases, both serine proteases and one aspartic protease were upregulated in the gongylidia, specialized hyphal tips whose only known function is to provide food to the ants. These combined results indicate that the enzymes are derived from the ingested fungal tissues. We infer that the five proteases are likely to accelerate protein extraction from plant cells in the leaf pulp that the ants add to the fungus garden, but regulatory functions such as activation of proenzymes are also possible, particularly for the aspartic proteases that were present but without showing activity. The proteases had high sequence similarities to proteolytic enzymes of phytopathogenic fungi, consistent with previous indications of convergent evolution of decomposition enzymes in attine ant fungal symbionts and phytopathogenic fungi.
Project description:The structures of recombinant histo-aspartic protease (HAP) from malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum as apoenzyme and in complex with two inhibitors, pepstatin A and KNI-10006, were solved at 2.5-, 3.3-, and 3.05-A resolutions, respectively. In the apoenzyme crystals, HAP forms a tight dimer not seen previously in any aspartic protease. The interactions between the monomers affect the conformation of two flexible loops, the functionally important "flap" (residues 70-83) and its structural equivalent in the C-terminal domain (residues 238-245), as well as the orientation of helix 225-235. The flap is found in an open conformation in the apoenzyme. Unexpectedly, the active site of the apoenzyme contains a zinc ion tightly bound to His32 and Asp215 from one monomer and to Glu278A from the other monomer, with the coordination of Zn resembling that seen in metalloproteases. The flap is closed in the structure of the pepstatin A complex, whereas it is open in the complex with KNI-10006. Although the binding mode of pepstatin A is significantly different from that in other pepsin-like aspartic proteases, its location in the active site makes unlikely the previously proposed hypothesis that HAP is a serine protease. The binding mode of KNI-10006 is unusual compared with the binding of other inhibitors from the KNI series to aspartic proteases. The novel features of the HAP active site could facilitate design of specific inhibitors used in the development of antimalarial drugs.
Project description:A semisynthetic RNase, RNase-(1-118).(111-124), consisting of a noncovalent complex between residues 1-118 of RNase (obtained from the proteolytic digestion of RNase A), and a synthetic 14-residue peptide containing residues 111-124 of RNase, exhibits 98% of the enzymatic activity of bovine pancreatic ribonuclease A (EC 220.127.116.11). The replacement of aspartic acid-121 by asparagine in this semisynthetic RNase to form the "D121N" analog reduces kcat/Km to 2.7% of the value for RNase A. In the present work, 1H NMR spectroscopy has been used to probe the ionization states of His12, His105, and His119 in this catalytically defective semisynthetic RNase. A comparison of the observed resonances of D121N with those previously determined by others for RNase A enabled us to assign the C2 proton NMR resonances to individual residues; the assignment of His119 was confirmed by titrating D121N with the fully deuterated peptide, [Asn121]-RNase-(111-124). The observed pKa values of His12, His105, and His119 decrease 0.18, 0.16, and 0.02 pH unit, respectively, as a result of the D121N replacement. Values calculated by using a finite difference algorithm to solve the Poisson-Boltzmann equation (the DELPHI program, version 3.0) and a refined 2.0-A coordinate set for the crystal structure of D121N differ significantly for active site residues His12 (delta pKa = -0.58) and His119 (delta pKa = -0.55) but not for His105 (delta pKa = -0.10). The elmination of bound water from the calculations reduced, but did not reconcile, these discrepancies (His12, delta pKa = -0.36; His119, delta pKa = -0.41).
Project description:All known guanidino kinases contain a conserved cysteine residue that interacts with the non-nucleophilic eta1-nitrogen of the guanidino substrate. Site-directed mutagenesis studies have shown that this cysteine is important, but not essential for activity. In human muscle creatine kinase (HMCK) this residue, Cys283, forms part of a conserved cysteine-proline-serine (CPS) motif and has a pKa about 3 pH units below that of a regular cysteine residue. Here we employ a computational approach to predict the contribution of residues in this motif to the unusually low cysteine pKa. We calculate that hydrogen bonds to the hydroxyl and to the backbone amide of Ser285 would both contribute approximately 1 pH unit, while the presence of Pro284 in the motif lowers the pKa of Cys283 by a further 1.2 pH units. Using UV difference spectroscopy the pKa of the active site cysteine in WT HMCK and in the P284A, S285A, and C283S/S285C mutants was determined experimentally. The pKa values, although consistently about 0.5 pH unit lower, were in broad agreement with those predicted. The effect of each of these mutations on the pH-rate profile was also examined. The results show conclusively that, contrary to a previous report (Wang et al. (2001) Biochemistry 40, 11698-11705), Cys283 is not responsible for the pKa of 5.4 observed in the WT V/K(creatine) pH profile. Finally we use molecular dynamics simulations to demonstrate that, in order to maintain the linear alignment necessary for associative inline transfer of a phosphoryl group, Cys283 needs to be ionized.
Project description:The conformational change observed upon ligand binding and phosphorylation for the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (protein kinase A-PKA) is of high importance for the regulation of its activity. We calculate pKa values and net charges for 18 3D structures of PKA in various conformations and liganded states to examine the role of electrostatics in ligand binding and activation. We find that the conformational change of PKA takes place without any significant net proton uptake/release at all pH values, thus indicating that PKA has evolved to reduce any pH-dependent barriers to the conformational motion. We furthermore find that the binding of ligands induces large changes in the net charge of PKA at most pH values, but significantly, we find that the net charge difference at physiological pH is close to zero, thus indicating that the active-site pKa values have been preorganized for substrate binding. We are unable to unequivocally resolve the identity of the groups responsible for determining the pH-activity profile of PKA but speculate that the titration of Lys 168 or the titration of ATP itself could be responsible for the loss of activity at high pH values. Finally, we examine the effect of point mutations on the pKa values of the PKA catalytic residues and find these to be relatively insensitive to both noncharge-altering and charge-altering mutations.
Project description:Active site guanines are critical for self-cleavage reactions of several ribozymes, but their precise functions in catalysis are unclear. To learn whether protonated or deprotonated forms of guanine predominate in the active site, microscopic pKa values were determined for ionization of 8-azaguanosine substituted for G8 in the active site of a fully functional hairpin ribozyme in order to determine microscopic pKa values for 8-azaguanine deprotonation from the pH dependence of fluorescence. Microscopic pKa values above 9 for deprotonation of 8-azaguanine in the active site were about 3 units higher than apparent pKa values determined from the pH dependence of self-cleavage kinetics. Thus, the increase in activity with increasing pH does not correlate with deprotonation of G8, and most of G8 is protonated at neutral pH. These results do not exclude a role in proton transfer, but a simple interpretation is that G8 functions in the protonated form, perhaps by donating hydrogen bonds.
Project description:Mainly based on various inhibitor studies previously performed, amidases came to be regarded as sulfhydryl enzymes. Not completely satisfied with this generally accepted interpretation, we performed a series of site-directed mutagenesis studies on one particular amidase of Rhodococcus rhodochrous J1 that was involved in its nitrile metabolism. For these experiments, the recombinant amidase was produced as the inclusion body in Escherichia coli to greatly facilitate its recovery and subsequent purification. With regard to the presumptive active site residue Cys203, a Cys203 --> Ala mutant enzyme still retained 11.5% of the original specific activity. In sharp contrast, substitutions in certain other positions in the neighborhood of Cys203 had a far more dramatic effect on the amidase. Glutamic acid substitution of Asp191 reduced the specific activity of the mutant enzyme to 1.33% of the wild-type activity. Furthermore, Asp191 --> Asn substitution as well as Ser195 --> Ala substitution completely abolished the specific activity. It would thus appear that, among various conserved residues residing within the so-called signature sequence common to all amidases, the real active site residues are Asp191 and Ser195 rather than Cys203. Inasmuch as an amide bond (CO-NH2) in the amide substrate is not too far structurally removed from a peptide bond (CO-NH-), the signature sequences of various amidases were compared with the active site sequences of various types of proteases. It was found that aspartic acid and serine residues corresponding to Asp191 and Ser195 of the Rhodococcus amidase are present within the active site sequences of aspartic proteinases, thus suggesting the evolutionary relationship between the two.