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A novel cation- interaction between the bound Cu(+) metal ion and Trp44 in the periplasmic Cu(+)/Ag(+) metallochaperone Escherichia coli CusF protects Cu(+) from the oxidative influence of the periplasm. In a popular model of metal ion transfer, a conformational change in the metal binding loop disrupts the cation- interaction and moves Trp44 aside to provide access to the occluded metal ion binding site in an "open" conformation. In this study, our molecular dynamics simulations support this putative mechanism of metal ion transfer. We find that the apoprotein undergoes a transition back and forth from the crystallographically observed "closed" state to the hypothesized open conformation over multiple microseconds. In agreement with nuclear magnetic resonance data, our simulations show that similar transitions are prohibited in Cu(+)CusF, suggesting that the conformational transitions are gated by a metal ion-mediated second-shell hydrogen bond between metal binding residue His36 and Asp37 of the metal binding loop region. Ab initio quantum mechanical calculations indicate that metal ion binding strengthens this interaction significantly, much like what is found in the case of other metalloproteins. The study builds toward a common evolutionary role of metal ion-mediated second-shell hydrogen bonds in metalloprotein structure and function.
author list (cited authors)
Chakravorty, D. K., Li, P., Tran, T. T., Bayse, C. A., & Merz, K. M.