Our recent review about studying enzymatic mechanisms using QM/MM mythologies has just been accepted on Israel Journal of Chemistry.
Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods are presently a well‐established alternative for the study of enzymatic reaction mechanisms. They enable the description of a small part of the enzyme, where reactions take place through QM, while the majority of the thousands of atoms that comprise these biomolecules are handled through MM. While different “flavors” and variations in the QM/MM field exist, this review will focus more on the application of the ONIOM methodology, presenting a fresh perspective on the application of this popular method in light of the growth in computational power and level of sophistication of the different methodologies that it can combine. In addition to a brief presentation of the basic principles behind these methods, this review will discuss different examples of applicability, common choices, practical considerations, and main problems involved, stemming from our experience in this field. Finally, a reflection on the future challenges for the next decade in the QM/MM modeling of enzymatic mechanisms is presented.
Authors: Magalhães RP, Fernandes HS, and Sousa SF
Henrique Silva Fernandes, Maria João Ramos, and Nuno M.F.S.A. Cerqueira
Published on 18th September 2018
Journal: ACS Catalysis
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acscatal.8b02321 | Download citation
Serine Hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) is an important drug target to fight malaria – one of the most devastating infectious diseases that accounted in 2016 with 216 million new cases and almost 450 thousand deaths. In this paper, computational studies were carried out to unveil the catalytic mechanism of SHMT using QM/MM methodologies. This enzyme is responsible for the extraordinary cyclisation of a tetrahydrofolate (THF) into 5,10-methylene-THF. This process is catalyzed by a pyridoxal-5’-phosphate (PLP) cofactor that binds L-serine and from which one molecule of L-glycine is produced. The results show that the catalytic process takes place in eight sequential steps that involve an α-elimination, the cyclization of the 5-hydroxymethyl-THF intermediate into 5,10-methylene-THF and the protonation of the quinonoid intermediate. According to the calculated energetic profile, the rate-limiting step of the full mechanism is the elimination of the hydroxymethyl group, from which results a formaldehyde intermediate that then becomes covalently bonded to the THF cofactor. The calculated barrier (DLPNO-CCSD(T)/CBS:ff99SB) for the rate-limiting step (18.0 kcal/mol) agrees very well with the experimental kinetic results (15.7-16.2 kcal/mol). The results also highlight the key role played by Glu57 during the full catalytic process and particularly in the first step of the mechanism that requires an anionic Glu57, contrasting with some proposals available in the literature for this step. It was also concluded that the cyclisation of THF must take place in the enzyme, rather than in solution as it has been proposed also in the past. All of these results together provide new knowledge and insight on the catalytic mechanism of SHMT that now can be used to develop new inhibitors targeting SHMT and therefore new anti-malaria drugs.