Piecewise All-Atom SMD Simulations Reveal Key Secondary Structures in Luciferase Unfolding Pathway.
Although the folding of single-domain proteins is well characterized theoretically and experimentally, the folding of large multidomain proteins is less well known. Firefly luciferase, a 550 residue three-domain protein, has been commonly used as a substrate to study chaperone reactions and as a model system for the study of folding of long polypeptide chains, including related phenomena such as cotranslational folding. Despite being characterized by various experimental techniques, the atomic-level contributions of various secondary structures of luciferase to its fold's mechanical stability remain unknown. Here, we developed a piecewise approach for all-atom steered molecular dynamics simulations to examine specific secondary structures that resist mechanical unfolding while minimizing the amount of computational resources required by the large water box of standard all-atom steered molecular dynamics simulations. We validated the robustness of this approach with a small NI3C protein and used our approach to elucidate the specific secondary structures that provide the largest contributions to luciferase mechanostability. In doing so, we show that piecewise all-atom steered molecular dynamics simulations can provide novel atomic resolution details regarding mechanostability and can serve as a platform for novel mutagenesis studies as well as a point for comparison with high-resolution force spectroscopy experiments.
Zhang, P; Wang, D; Yang, W; Marszalek, PE
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