Structural reorganization and preorganization in enzyme active sites: comparisons of experimental and theoretically ideal active site geometries in the multistep serine esterase reaction cycle.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Many enzymes catalyze reactions with multiple chemical steps, requiring the stabilization of multiple transition states during catalysis. Such enzymes must strike a balance between the conformational reorganization required to stabilize multiple transition states of a reaction and the confines of a preorganized active site in the polypeptide tertiary structure. Here we investigate the compromise between structural reorganization during the catalytic process and preorganization of the active site for a multistep enzyme-catalyzed reaction, the hydrolysis of esters by the Ser-His-Asp/Glu catalytic triad. Quantum mechanical transition states were used to generate ensembles of geometries that can catalyze each individual step in the mechanism. These geometries are compared to each other by superpositions of catalytic atoms to find "consensus" geometries that can catalyze all steps with minimal rearrangement. These consensus geometries are found to be excellent matches for the natural active site. Preorganization is therefore found to be the major defining characteristic of the active site, and reorganizational motions often proposed to promote catalysis have been minimized. The variability of enzyme active sites observed by X-ray crystallography was also investigated empirically. A catalog of geometrical parameters relating active site residues to each other and to bound inhibitors was collected from a set of crystal structures. The crystal-structure-derived values were then compared to the ranges found in quantum mechanically optimized structures along the entire reaction coordinate. The empirical ranges are found to encompass the theoretical ranges when thermal fluctuations are taken into account. Therefore, the active sites are preorganized to a geometry that can be objectively and quantitatively defined as minimizing conformational reorganization while maintaining optimal transition state stabilization for every step during catalysis. The results provide a useful guiding principle for de novo design of enzymes with multistep mechanisms.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Smith, AJT; Müller, R; Toscano, MD; Kast, P; Hellinga, HW; Hilvert, D; Houk, KN

Published Date

  • November 19, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 130 / 46

Start / End Page

  • 15361 - 15373

PubMed ID

  • 18939839

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2728765

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5126

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/ja803213p


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States