Comparison of coupled motions in Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis dihydrofolate reductase

James B. Watney, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Hybrid quantum/classical molecular dynamics simulations are used to compare the role of protein motion in the hydride transfer reaction catalyzed by Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). These two enzymes have 44% sequence identity, and the experimentally determined structures and hydride transfer rates are similar. The simulations indicate that the tertiary structures of both enzymes evolve in a similar manner during the hydride transfer reaction. In both enzymes, the donor-acceptor distance decreases to ∼2.7 Å at the transition state configurations to enable hydride transfer. Zero point energy and hydrogen tunneling effects are found to be significant for both enzymes. Covariance and rank correlation analyses of motions throughout the protein and ligands illustrate that E. coli and B. subtilis DHFR exhibit both similarities and differences in the equilibrium fluctuations and the conformational changes along the collective reaction coordinate for hydride transfer. A common set of residues that play a significant role in the network of coupled motions leading to configurations conducive to hydride transfer for both E. coli and B. subtilis DHFR was identified. These results suggest a balance between conservation and flexibility in the thermal motions and conformational changes during hydride transfer. Homologous protein structures, in conjunction with conformational sampling, enable enzymes with different sequences to catalyze the same hydride transfer reaction with similar efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10130-10138
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 25 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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