Promoting vibrations in human purine nucleoside phosphorylase. A molecular dynamics and hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical study

Sara Núñez, Dimitri Antoniou, Vern L. Schramm, Steven D. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Crystallographic studies of human purine nucleoside phosphorylase (hPNP) with several transition-state (TS) analogues in the immucillin family showed an unusual geometric arrangement of the atoms O-5′, O-4′, and O p, the nucleophilic phosphate oxygen, lying in a close three-oxygen stack. These observations were corroborated by extensive experimental kinetic isotope effect analysis. We propose that protein-facilitated dynamic modes in hPNP cause this stack, centered on the ribosyl O-4′ oxygen, to squeeze together and push electrons toward the purine ring, stabilizing the oxacarbenium character of the TS. As the N-ribosidic bond is cleaved during the reaction, the pKa values of N-7 and O-6 increase by the electron density expelled by the oxygen-stack compression toward the purine ring. Increased electron density in the purine ring improves electrostatic interactions with nearby residues and facilitates the abstraction of a proton from a solvent proton or an unidentified general acid, making the purine a better leaving group, and accelerating catalysis. Classical and mixed quantum/classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the Michaelis complex of hPNP with the substrates guanosine and phosphate were performed to assess the existence of protein-promoting vibrations (PPVs). Analogous simulations were performed for the substrates in aqueous solution. In the catalytic site, the O-5′, O-4′, and Op oxygens vibrate at frequencies of ca. 125 and 465 cm-1, as opposed to 285 cm-1 in the absence of hPNP. The hybrid quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical method was used to assess whether this enzymatic vibration pushing the oxygens together is coupled to the reaction coordinate, and thus has a direct positive impact on catalysis. The potential energy surface for the phosphorolysis reaction for several snapshots taken from the classical MD simulation showed substantial differences in oxygen compression. Our calculations showed the existence of PPVs coupled to the reaction coordinate, which effect electronic alterations in the active site by pushing the three oxygen centers together in proximity, and accelerate substrate turnover in the phosphorolysis reaction catalyzed by hPNP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15720-15729
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 8 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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