Shift in nucleotide conformational equilibrium contributes to increased rate of catalysis of GpAp versus GpA in barnase

Jesùs Giraldo, Leonardo De Maria, Shoshana J. Wodak

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The microbial ribonuclease barnase exhibits low catalytic activity toward GpN dinucleotides, where G is guanosine, p is phosphate and N represents any nucleoside. When a phosphate is added to the 3′-end, as in GpNp, substrate affinity is enhanced by one order of magnitude, and the catalytic rate by two. In order to gain insight into this phenomenon, we analyzed the nucleotide conformations and protein-nucleotide interactions of 4 ns molecular dynamics (MD) trajectories of complexes of barnase with guanylyl(3′-5′) adenosine (GpA) and guanylyl(3′-5′) adenosine 3′-monophosphate (GpAp), respectively, in the presence of solvent and counter ions. We found that, in a majority of the bound GpA conformations, the guanine base was firmly bound to the recognition site. The phosphate and adenosine moieties pointed into the solvent, and interactions with key catalytic residues were absent. In contrast, the bound GpAp adopted conformations in which all of the nucleotide portions remained tightly bound to the enzyme and interactions with key catalytic residues were maintained. These observations indicate that, for GpA, a significant proportion of the bound nucleotide adopts non-productive conformations and that adding the terminal phosphate as in GpAp shifts the equilibrium of the bound conformations towards structures capable of undergoing catalysis. Incorporating this property into the kinetic equations yields an increase in both the apparent rate constant (kcat) and the apparent dissociation constant (KM) for GpAp versus GpA. The increase in KM, caused by the presence of additional non-productive binding modes for GpA, should however be counterbalanced by the propensity of free GpA to adopt folded conformations in solution, which are unable to bind the enzyme and by the tighter binding of GpAp (Giraldo J, Wodak SJ, Van Belle D. Conformational analysis of GpA and GpAp in aqueous solution by molecular dynamics and statistical methods. J Mol Biol 1998; 283:863-882). Addition of the terminal phosphate is shown to significantly influence the collective motion of the enzyme in a manner that fosters interactions with key catalytic residues, representing a further likely contribution to the catalytic rate enhancement. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-276
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2004


  • Barnase
  • Conformational families
  • Dinucleotides
  • Essential dynamics
  • Molecular dynamics
  • RNA-protein interactions


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