Liu, Yufeng; Ke, Meng; Gong, Haipeng
Protonation of Glu(135) Facilitates the Outward-to-Inward Structural Transition of Fucose Transporter
BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 109:542-551, AUG 4 2015

Major facilitator superfamily (MFS) transporters typically need to alternatingly sample the outward-facing and inward-facing conformations, in order to transport the substrate across membrane. To understand the mechanism, in this work, we focused on one MFS member, the L-fucose/H+ symporter (FucP), whose crystal structure exhibits an outward-open conformation. Previous experiments imply several residues critical to the substrate/proton binding and structural transition of FucP, among which Glu(135), located in the periplasm-accessible vestibule, is supposed as being involved in both proton translocation and conformational change of the protein. Here, the structural transition of FucP in presence of substrate was investigated using molecular-dynamics simulations. By combining the equilibrium and accelerated simulations as well as thermodynamic calculations, not only was the large-scale conformational change from the outward-facing to inward-facing state directly observed, but also the free energy change during the structural transition was calculated. The simulations confirm the critical role of Glu(135), whose protonation facilitates the outward-to-inward structural transition both by energetically favoring the inward-facing conformation in thermodynamics and by reducing the free energy barrier along the reaction pathway in kinetics. Our results may help the mechanistic studies of both FucP and other MFS transporters.


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