PloS one

Initial binding of ions to the interhelical loops of divalent ion transporter CorA: replica exchange molecular dynamics simulation study.

PMID 22952795


Crystal structures of Thermotoga maritima magnesium transporter CorA, reported in 2006, revealed its homo-pentameric constructions. However, the structure of the highly conserved extracellular interhelical loops remains unsolved, due to its high flexibility. We have explored the configurations of the loops through extensive replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations in explicit solvent model with the presence of either Co(III) Hexamine ions or Mg(2+) ions. We found that there are multiple binding sites available on the interhelical loops in which the negatively charged residues, E316 and E320, are located notably close to the positively charged ions during the simulations. Our simulations resolved the distinct binding patterns of the two kinds of ions: Co(III) Hexamine ions were found to bind stronger with the loop than Mg(2+) ions with binding free energy -7.3 kJ/mol lower, which is nicely consistent with the previous data. Our study provides an atomic basis description of the initial binding process of Mg(2+) ions on the extracellular interhelical loops of CorA and the detailed inhibition mechanism of Co(III) Hexamine ions on CorA ions transportation.