Consequences of breaking the Asp-His hydrogen bond of the catalytic triad: Effects on the structure and dynamics of the serine esterase cutinase

Edmond Y Lau, Thomas C. Bruice

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The objective of this study has been to investigate the effects on the structure and dynamics that take place with the breaking of the Asp-His hydrogen bond in the catalytic triad Asp175-His188-Ser120 of the serine esterase cutinase in the ground state. Four molecular dynamics simulations were performed on this enzyme in solution. The starting structures in two simulations had the Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond intact, and in two simulations the Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond was broken. Conformations of the residues comprising the catalytic triad are well behaved during both simulations containing the intact Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond. Short contacts of less than 2.6 Å were observed in 1.2% of the sampled distances between the carboxylate oxygens of Asp175 and the NE2 of His188. The simulations showed that the active site residues exhibit a great deal of mobility when the Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond is broken. In the two simulations in which the Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond is not present, the final geometries for the residues in the catalytic triad are not in catalytically productive conformations. In both simulations, Asp175 and His188 are more than 6 Å apart in the final structure from dynamics, and the side chains of Ser120 and Asp175 are in closer proximity to the NE2 of His188 than to ND1. Nonlocal effects on the structure of cutinase were observed. A loop formed by residues 26-31, which is on the opposite end of the protein relative to the active site, was greatly affected. Further changes in the dynamics of cutinase were determined from quasiharmonic mode analysis. The frequency of the second lowest mode was greatly reduced when the Asp175-His188 hydrogen bond was broken, and several higher modes showed lower frequencies. All four simulations showed that the oxyanion hole, composed of residues Ser42 and Gln121, is stable. Only one of the hydrogen bonds (Ser42 OG to Gln121 NE2) observed in the crystal structure that stabilize the conformation of Ser42 OG persisted throughout the simulations. This hydrogen bond appears to be enough for the oxyanion hole to retain its structural integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics

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