Conformational Transition Pathway in the Activation Process of Allosteric Glucokinase

Huang, Min; Lu, Shaoyong; Shi, Ting; Zhao, Yaxue; Chen, Yingyi; Li, Xiaobai; Liu, Xinyi; Huang, Zhimin; Zhang, Jian
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Glucokinase (GK) is a glycolytic enzyme that plays an important role in regulating blood glucose level, thus acting as a potentially attractive target for drug discovery in the treatment of diabetes of the young type 2 and persistent hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy. To characterize the activation mechanism of GK from the super-open state (inactive state) to the closed state (active state), a series of conventional molecular dynamics (MD) and targeted MD (TMD) simulations were performed on this enzyme. Conventional MD simulation showed a specific conformational ensemble of GK when the enzyme is inactive. Seven TMD simulations depicted a reliably conformational transition pathway of GK from the inactive state to the active state, and the components important to the conformational change of GK were identified by analyzing the detailed structures of the TMD trajectories. In combination with the inactivation process, our findings showed that the whole conformational pathway for the activation-inactivation-activation of GK is a one-direction circulation, and the active state is less stable than the inactive state in the circulation. Additionally, glucose was demonstrated to gradually modulate its binding pose with the help of residues in the large domain and connecting region of GK during the activation process. Furthermore, the obtained energy barriers were used to explain the preexisting equilibrium and the slow binding kinetic process of the substrate by GK. The simulated results are in accordance with the recent findings from the mutagenesis experiments and kinetic analyses. Our observations reveal a complicated conformational process in the allosteric protein, resulting in new knowledge about the delicate mechanisms for allosteric biological macromolecules that will be useful in drug design for targeting allosteric proteins.


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