Morales-Quintana, Luis; Alejandra Moya-Leon, Maria; Herrera, Raul
Computational study enlightens the structural role of the alcohol acyltransferase DFGWG motif

Alcohol acyltransferases (AAT) catalyze the esterification reaction of alcohols and acyl-CoA into esters in fruits and flowers. Despite the high divergence between AAT enzymes, two important and conserved motifs are shared: the catalytic HxxxD motif, and the DFGWG motif. The latter is proposed to play a structural role; however, its function remains unclear. The DFGWG motif is located in loop 21 and stabilized by a hydrogen bond between residues Y52 and D381. Also, this motif is distant from the HxxxD motif, and most probably without a direct role in the substrate interaction. To evaluate the role of the DFGWG motif, in silico analysis was performed in the VpAAT1 protein. Three mutants (Y52F, D381A and D381E) were evaluated. Major changes (size and shape) in the solvent channels were found, although no differences were revealed in the entire 3D structure. Molecular dynamics simulations and docking studies described unfavorable energies for interaction of the mutant proteins with different substrates, as well as unfavored ligand orientations in the solvent channel. Additionally, we examined the contribution of different energetic parameters to the total free energy of protein-ligand complexes by the MM-GBSA method. The complexes differed mainly in their van der Waals contributions and have unfavorable electrostatic interactions. VpAAT1, Y52F and D381A mutants showed a dramatic reduction in the binding capacity to several substrates, which is related to differences in electrostatic potential on the protein surfaces, suggesting that D381 from the DFGWG motif and residue Y52 play a crucial role in maintenance of the adequate solvent channel structure required for catalysis.


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