- The C-type lectin receptor langerin plays a vital role in the mammalian defense against invading pathogens. Langerin requires a Ca2+ cofactor, the binding affinity of which is regulated by pH. Thus, Ca2+ is bound when langerin is on the membrane but released when langerin and its pathogen substrate traffic to the acidic endosome, allowing the substrate to be degraded. The change in pH is sensed by protonation of the allosteric pH sensor histidine H294. However, the mechanism by which Ca2+ is released from the buried binding site is not clear.
- The octapeptins are lipopeptide antibiotics that are structurally similar to polymyxins yet retain activity against polymyxin-resistant Gram-negative pathogens, suggesting they might be used to treat recalcitrant infections. However, the basis of their unique activity is unclear because of the difficulty in generating high-resolution experimental data of the interaction of antimicrobial peptides with lipid membranes. To elucidate these structure–activity relationships, we employed all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with umbrella sampling to investigate the conformational and energetic landscape of octapeptins interacting with bacterial outer membrane (OM).
- Haloalkane dehalogenases catalyze the hydrolysis of halogen–carbon bonds in organic halogenated compounds and as such are of great utility as biocatalysts. The crystal structures of the haloalkane dehalogenase DhlA from the bacterium from Xanthobacter autotrophicus GJ10, specifically adapted for the conversion of the small 1,2-dichloroethane (DCE) molecule, display the smallest catalytic site (110 Å3) within this enzyme family. However, during a substrate-specificity screening, we noted that DhlA can catalyze the conversion of far bulkier substrates, such as the 4-(bromomethyl)-6,7-dimethoxy-coumarin (220 Å3).
- Protein kinase Cα (PKCα) belongs to the family of AGC kinases that phosphorylate multiple peptide substrates. Although the consensus sequence motif has been identified and used to explain substrate specificity for PKCα, it does not inform the structural basis of substrate-binding and kinase activity for diverse substrates phosphorylated by this kinase. The transient, dynamic, and unstructured nature of this protein–protein interaction has limited structural mapping of kinase–substrate interfaces.
- The type 1 ryanodine receptor (RyR1) mediates Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum to initiate skeletal muscle contraction and is associated with muscle diseases, malignant hyperthermia, and central core disease. To better understand RyR1 channel function, we investigated the molecular mechanisms of channel gating and ion permeation. An adequate model of channel gating requires accurate, high-resolution models of both open and closed states of the channel. To this end, we generated an open-channel RyR1 model using molecular simulations to pull Ca2+ through the pore constriction site of a closed-channel RyR1 structure determined at 3.8-Å resolution.
- Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) mediates the transfer of cholesteryl esters (CEs) and triglycerides between different lipoproteins. Recent studies have shown that blocking the function of CETP can increase the level of HDL cholesterol in blood plasma and suppress the risk of cardiovascular disease. Hence, understanding the structure, dynamics, and mechanism by which CETP transfers the neutral lipids has received tremendous attention in last decade. Although the recent crystal structure has provided direct evidence of the existence of strongly bound CEs in the CETP core, very little is known about the mechanism of CE/triglyceride transfer by CETP.