Molecular Modelling of Monovalent Cations in Energy-Converting Proteins

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Title: Molecular Modelling of Monovalent Cations in Energy-Converting Proteins
Authors: Shalaeva, Daria N.
ORCID of the author:
Thesis advisor: P.D. Dr. Armen Mulkidjanian
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Karin Busch
Abstract: In this work, the evolutionary biophysics approach is applied to the two of the largest protein superfamilies present in human genomes, namely P-loop fold nucleoside triphosphatases (P-loop NTPases) and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). This approach combines comparative analysis of protein structures and sequences with molecular modeling techniques in order to reveal not only the conservation of particular residues among proteins within each superfamily but also their role in the fundamental mechanisms underlying common functions. The study of the hydrolysis activation mechanism in P-loop NTPases started with the molecular dynamics simulations of Mg-NTP complexes (Mg-ATP and Mg-GTP) in the presence of K+, NH4+, and Na+ ions. These simulations showed that in the presence of large cations (K+ and NH4+), the conformation of the phosphate chain of ATP and GTP is extended, with large distances between alpha- and gamma-phosphates. This conformation is similar to the shape of ATP and GTP molecules (or their analogs) in the crystal structures of various P-loop NTPases. To clarify the role of monovalent cations in P-loop NTPases, MD simulations were conducted for two cation-dependent GTPases: tRNA modification GTPase MnmE and translation factor EF-Tu. MD simulations of Mg-GTP/EF-Tu complex bound to the tRNA and ribosome fragment in the presence of K+ ions have shown consistent binding of a potassium ion from the solution between alpha- and gamma-phosphates (AG site), similar to the cation binding in MnmE and other cation-dependent P-loop GTPases. In both proteins, binding of K+ ion in the AG site led to the rotation of gamma-phosphate, making this group more eclipsed with alpha-phosphate. The new rotated position of gamma-phosphate was stabilized by a novel H-bond with the backbone nitrogen of the K-3 residue (relative to the ubiquitously conserved Lys) of the P-loop motif. The activation mechanism observed in MD simulations of MnmE and EF-Tu could be envisioned as basic for P-loop NTPases, as these cation-dependent proteins are among the most ancient members of the P-loop superfamily. This mechanism was used as a basis for extensive comparative analysis of representative proteins from all major classes of P-loop NTPases. Based on the established conservation and presence of the key features in active sites of P-loop NTPases, the chain of events where rotation of gamma-phosphate triggers the nucleophilic attack and gamma-phosphate cleavage has been proposed as the basic universal activation mechanism of NTP hydrolysis in P-loop NTPases. The second part of this work explores the activation of GPCRs as sodium-translocating receptors. Crystal structures of the novel Na-pumping microbial rhodopsin along with the recent avalanche of GPCR structures provided the basis for comparative structure analysis, focused on investigating the similarities in the Na-binding sites of the two superfamilies. Structure superposition of GPCRs and microbial rhodopsins (MRs) based on comparison of their Na-binding sites was used to produce structure-guided sequence alignments of the two superfamilies. The only residue universally conserved between the two superfamilies was Trp in the helix 6/F (Trp6.48 in GPCRs). In both families, the signaling mechanism directly involves this residue, which is likely to be an ancient feature inherited from the common ancestor of MRs and GPCRs – the Na-pumping light-activated rhodopsin. The similarity of GPCRs with light-activated sodium pumps endorses the suggestion that GPCRs may also function as Na+ ion translocators. A model of GPCR activation accompanied by translocation of Na+ was constructed to demonstrate how this mechanism can explain the voltage sensitivity of certain Class A GPCRs. Two modes of activation were modeled – one where Na+ ion is transported into the cytoplasm and the one where Na+ ion is expelled to the intracellular space. The two modes quantitatively describe the behavior of voltage-activated and voltage-suppressed GPCRs, respectively. Finally, further structure scrutiny and rotamer analysis provided a plausible pathway of Na+ transmembrane translocation through the helical bundle of GPCRs.
Subject Keywords: molecular dynamics; monovalent cations; sodium; potassium; ATPases; GTPases; GPCR; rhodopsins
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2022
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB06 - E-Dissertationen

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