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Influence of key residues on the reaction mechanism of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 1999

Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Kennedyallee 70, D-60596 Frankfurt, Germany
Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Kennedyallee 70, D-60596 Frankfurt, Germany
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The reaction mechanism of the catalytic phosphoryl transfer of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (cAPK) was investigated by semi-empirical AM1 molecular orbital computations of an active site model system derived from the crystal structure of the catalytic subunit of the enzyme. The activation barrier is calculated as 20.7 kcal mol−1 and the reaction itself to be exothermic by 12.2 kcal mol−1. The active site residue Asp166, which was often proposed to act as a catalytic base, does not accept a proton in any of the reaction steps. Instead, the hydroxyl hydrogen of serine is shifted to the simultaneously transferred phosphate group of ATP. Although the calculated transition state geometry indicates an associative phosphoryl transfer, no concentration of negative charge is found. To study the influence of protein mutations on the reaction mechanism, we compared two-dimensional energy hypersurfaces of the protein kinase wild-type model and a corresponding mutant in which Asp166 was replaced by alanine. Surprisingly, they show similar energy profiles despite the experimentally known decrease of catalytic activity for corresponding mutants. Furthermore, a model structure was examined, where the charged NH3 group of Lys168 was replaced by a neutral methyl group. The energetic hypersurface of this hypothetical mutant shows two possible pathways for phosphoryl transfer, which both require significantly higher activation energies than the other systems investigated, while the energetic stabilization of the reaction product is similar in all systems. As the position of the amino acid side chains and the substrate peptide is virtually unchanged in all model systems, our results suggest that the exchange of Asp166 by other amino acid is less important to the phosphoryl transfer itself, but crucial to maintain the configuration of the active site in vivo. The positively charged side chain of Lys168, however, is necessary to stabilize the intermediate reaction states, particularly the side chain of the substrate peptide.

Research Article
© 1999 The Protein Society

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