We develop an approach to characterize the effects of gating by a multiconformation protein consisting of macrostate conformations that are either accessible or inaccessible to ligand binding. We first construct a Markov state model of the apo-protein from atomistic molecular dynamics simulations from which we identify macrostates and their conformations, compute their relative macrostate populations and interchange kinetics, and structurally characterize them in terms of ligand accessibility. We insert the calculated first-order rate constants for conformational transitions into a multistate gating theory from which we derive a gating factor γ that quantifies the degree of conformational gating. Applied to HIV-1 protease, our approach yields a kinetic network of three accessible (semi-open, open, and wide-open) and two inaccessible (closed and a newly identified, "parted") macrostate conformations. The parted conformation sterically partitions the active site, suggesting a possible role in product release. We find that the binding kinetics of drugs and drug-like inhibitors to HIV-1 protease falls in the slow gating regime. However, because γ = 0.75, conformational gating only modestly slows ligand binding. Brownian dynamics simulations of the diffusional association of eight inhibitors to the protease─having a wide range of experimental association constants (∼104-1010 M-1 s-1)─yields gated rate constants in the range of ∼0.5-5.7 × 108 M-1 s-1. This indicates that, whereas the association rate of some inhibitors could be described by the model, for many inhibitors either subsequent conformational transitions or alternate binding mechanisms may be rate-limiting. For systems known to be modulated by conformational gating, the approach could be scaled computationally efficiently to screen association kinetics for a large number of ligands.
This work describes an example of using Brownian dynamics in kinetic calculations.
The following methods are also used: