Probing the Ser-Ser-Lys catalytic triad mechanism of peptide amidase: computational studies of the ground state, transition state, and intermediate.

PMID 15595822


Peptide amidase (Pam), a hydrolytic enzyme that belongs to the amidase signature (AS) family, selectively catalyzes the hydrolysis of the C-terminal amide bond (CO-NH(2)) of peptides. The recent availability of the X-ray structures of Pam, fatty acid amide hydrolase, and malonamidase E2 has led to the proposal of a novel Ser-Ser-Lys catalytic triad mechanism for the amide hydrolysis by the AS enzymes. The molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using the CHARMM force field were performed to explore the catalytic mechanism of Pam. The 1.8 A X-ray crystal structure of Pam in complex with the amide analogue of chymostatin was chosen for the initial coordinates for the MD simulations. The five systems that were investigated are as follows: (i) enzyme.substrate with Lys123-NH(2), (ii) enzyme.substrate with Lys123-NH(3)(+), (iii) enzyme.substrate with Lys123-NH(3)(+) and Ser226-O(-), (iv) enzyme.transition state, and (v) enzyme.tetrahedral intermediate. Our data support the presence of the hydrogen bonding network among the catalytic triad residues, Ser226, Ser202, and Lys123, where Ser226 acts as the nucleophile and Ser202 bridges Ser226 and Lys123. The MD simulation supports the catalytic role of the crystallographic waters, Wat1 and Wat2. In all the systems that have been studied, the backbone amide nitrogens of Asp224 and Thr223 create an oxyanion hole by hydrogen bonding to the terminal amide oxygen of the substrate, and stabilize the oxyanion tetrahedral intermediate. The results from both our computational investigation and previously published experimental pH profile support two mechanisms. In a mechanism that is relevant at lower pH, the Lys123-NH(3)(+)-Ser202 dyad provides structural support to the catalytic residue Ser226, which in turn carries out a nucleophilic attack at the substrate amide carbonyl in concert with Wat1-mediated deprotonation and stabilization of the tetrahedral transition state by the oxyanion hole. In the mechanism operating at higher pH, the Lys123-NH(2)-Ser202 catalytic dyad acts as a general base to assist addition of Ser226 to the substrate amide carbonyl. The results from the MD simulation of the tetrahedral intermediate state show that both Ser202 and Lys123 are possible candidates for protonation of the leaving group, NH(2), to form the acyl-enzyme intermediate.