Acta biochimica Polonica

Elucidation of neurophysin/bioligand interactions from molecular modeling.

PMID 9511957


This is a review of our recent modeling work aimed at: (i) development and assessment of techniques for reliable refinement of low-resolution protein structures and (ii) using these techniques, at solving specific problems pertinent to neurophysin-bioligand interactions. Neurophysins I and II (NPI and NPII) serve in the neurosecretory granules of the posterior pituitary as carrier proteins for the neurophyseal hormones oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (VP), respectively, until the latter are released into blood. NPs are homologous two-domain, sulphur rich small proteins (93-95 residues, 7 disulphide bridges per monomer), capable of being aggregated. The C2 symmetrical NPI2 and NPII2 homodimers, and the (NPI/OT)2 and (NPII/VP)2 heterotetramers, all believed to be the smallest functional units, were modeled using low-resolution structure information, i.e. the C alpha-carbon coordinates of the homologous NPII/dipeptide complex as a template. The all-atom representations of the models were obtained using the SYBYL suite of programs (by Tripos, Inc.). Subsequently, they were relaxed, using a constrained simulated annealing (CSA) protocol, and submitted to about 100 ps molecular dynamics (MD) in water, using the AMBER 4.1 force field. The (NPI/OT)2 and (NPII/VP)2 structures, averaged after the last 20 ps of MD, were remarkably similar to those recently reported either for NPII/dipeptide or NPII/oxytocin complex in the solid state (Chen et al., 1991, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., U.S.A. 88, 4240-4244; Rose et al., 1996, Nature Struct. Biol. 3, 163-169). The results indicate that the 3(10) helices (terminating the amino domains) and the carboxyl domains are more mobile than the remainder of the NP monomers. The hormones become anchored by residues 1-3 and 6 to the host, leaving residues 4-5 and 7-9 exposed on the surface and free to move. A cluster of attractive interactions, extending from the ligand binding site, Tyr-24-Ile-26 of unit 1(2), to the inter-monomer interface Val-36 of unit 1(2), Cys-79 and Ile-72 of unit 2(1), is clearly seen. We suggest that both these interactions as well as the increased mobility of the 3(10) helix and the carboxyl domain may contribute to the allosteric communication between the ligand and the unit1-unit2 interface.

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