Developing methods to construct ring pucker free energy hypersurfaces applied to the analysis of glycosidase enzyme catalytic mechanisms

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Carbohydrates consist of one or more sub-units usually various 5- and 6-membered cycles (furanoses and pyranoses) which can twist, bend or flip into a variety of conformers that differ in strain - this is ring puckering. These puckers notably the strained puckering conformers are observed during enzymatically assisted bond formation or cleavage of the glycosidic bonds of carbohydrate substrates. In this thesis, the free energy of ring puckering is calculated by implementing the Hill-Reilly reduced coordinate pucker description into the sampling enhancing Free Energies from Adaptive Reaction Coordinate Forces (FEARCF) method. FEARCF non-Boltzmann simulations of prototypical sugars β-Dribose and β-D-glucose converged to yield free energy pucker surfaces and volumes when using several semi-empirical QM methods - AM1, PM3, PM3CARB-1 and SCC-DFTB. From this, the accessible puckering conformations and minimum free energy paths of puckering were reasoned An analysis of the furanose and pyranose free energy pucker surfaces and volumes compared with both Density Functional Theory RB3LYP/6-311++G** optimised structures and a Hartree-Fock free energy surface revealed that SCC-DFTB provides the best semi-empirical description of 5- and 6- membered carbohydrate ring deformation. This illustrates that necessary high energy ring conformations observed in enzymatic binding sites requires the enzyme to induce and preserve high energy conformations required for successful hydrolyses and synthesis of the glycosidic bond. To further test this hypothesis, a 5- and 6-membered cycle were studied within enzymatic environments. The polysaccharide cellulose contains β 1-4 linked glucose subunit and is degraded by cellulase, a glycosidase. Specifically, the retaining cellobiohydrolase I (CBHI) of Trichoderma Reesei which cleaves cellobiose units from crystalline cellulose.The free energy volumes of puckering for the glucose sub-unit (in the catalytic position of an 8 unit cellulosic fragment - cellooctaose) were calculated and explored in vacuum, water and in the active site of CBHI. It was observed that the binding pocket of enzymes limits the ring pucker and that the active site amino acids preferentially stabilise certain puckering conformations. For CBHI, the first part of the glycosidase reaction is the glycosylation step. This was driven to completion during SCC-DFTB QM/MD FEARCF calculations where GLU212, ASP214 and GLU217 and part of the substrate were treated quantum mechanically. The general hybrid orbital method was used to connect the QM and MM regions. The free energy barriers of glycosylation were computed and the puckering statistics during the conversion of cellooctaose to products were correlated with this. Guanosine, a 5-membered ribose derivative is phosphorylated by Purine Nucleoside Phosphorylase (PNP) in order to salvage the guanine base. The effect of the PNP protein environment on ring pucker was studied by using FEARCF SCC-DFTB QM/MD non Boltzmann free energy calculations to quantify the pucker change induced in guanosine when changing environment from vacuum, to water and to the protein. In vacuo, the E4 and E1 pucker conformers were observed as minima. Upon solvation, the puckering phase space became less restricted with the 3T4 and 2T3 pucker conformers as minima. In the PNP active site pucker became restricted with only the 4E conformer observed.

Includes bibliographical references.