Molecular dynamics study of the allosteric control mechanisms of the glycolytic pathway
There is a growing body of interest to understand the regulation of allosteric proteins. Allostery is a phenomenon of protein regulation whereby binding of an effector molecule at a remote site affects binding and activity at the protein‟s active site. Over the years, these sites have become popular drug targets as they provide advantages in terms of selectivity and saturability. Both experimental and computational methods are being used to study and identify allosteric sites. Although experimental methods provide us with detailed structures and have been relatively successful in identifying these sites, they are subject to time and cost limitations. In the present dissertation, Molecular Dynamics Simulations (MDS) and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) have been employed to enhance our understanding ofallostery and protein dynamics. MD simulations generated trajectories which were then qualitatively assessed using PCA. Both of these techniques were applied to two important trypanosomatid drug targets and controlling enzymes of the glycolytic pathway - pyruvate kinase (PYK) and phosphofructokinase (PFK). Molecular Dynamics simulations were first carried out on both the effector bound and unbound forms of the proteins. This provided a framework for direct comparison and inspection of the conformational changes at the atomic level. Following MD simulations, PCA was run to further analyse the motions. The principal components thus captured are in quantitative agreement with the previously published experimental data which increased our confidence in the reliability of our simulations. Also, the binding of FBP affects the allosteric mechanism of PYK in a very interesting way. The inspection of the vibrational modes reveals interesting patterns in the movement of the subunits which differ from the conventional symmetrical pattern. Also, lowering of B-factors on effector binding provides evidence that the effector is not only locking the R-state but is also acting as a general heat-sink to cool down the whole tetramer. This observation suggests that protein rigidity and intrinsic heat capacity are important factors in stabilizing allosteric proteins. Thus, this work also provides new and promising insights into the classical Monod-Wyman-Changeux model of allostery.