Maycon Vinicius Damasceno de Oliveira, Kauê S da Costa, José Rogério A Silva, Jerônimo Lameira, and Anderson H Lima (2024).
Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society, 33, e4969.   (PubMed)

The peptidoglycan biosynthesis pathway plays a vital role in bacterial cells, and facilitates peptidoglycan layer formation, a fundamental structural component of the bacterial cell wall. The enzymes in this pathway are candidates for antibiotic development, as most do not have mammalian homologues. The UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UNAG) enolpyruvyl transferase enzyme (MurA) in the peptidoglycan pathway cytoplasmic step is responsible for the phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP)-UNAG catalytic reaction, forming UNAG enolpyruvate and inorganic phosphate. Reportedly, UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid (UNAM) binds tightly to MurA forming a dormant UNAM-PEP-MurA complex and acting as a MurA feedback inhibitor. MurA inhibitors are complex, owing to competitive binding interactions with PEP, UNAM, and UNAG at the MurA active site. We used computational methods to explore UNAM and UNAG binding. UNAM showed stronger hydrogen-bond interactions with the Arg120 and Arg91 residues, which help to stabilize the closed conformation of MurA, than UNAG. Binding free energy calculations using end-point computational methods showed that UNAM has a higher binding affinity than UNAG, when PEP is attached to Cys115. The unbinding process, simulated using τ-random acceleration molecular dynamics, showed that UNAM has a longer relative residence time than UNAG, which is related to several complex dissociation pathways, each with multiple intermediate metastable states. This prevents the loop from opening and exposing the Arg120 residue to accommodate UNAG and potential new ligands. Moreover, we demonstrate the importance of Cys115-linked PEP in closed-state loop stabilization. We provide a basis for evaluating novel UNAM analogues as potential MurA inhibitors. PUBLIC SIGNIFICANCE: MurA is a critical enzyme involved in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis and is involved in antibiotic resistance development. UNAM can remain in the target protein's active site for an extended time compared to its natural substrate, UNAG. The prolonged interaction of this highly stable complex known as the 'dormant complex' comprises UNAM-PEP-MurA and offers insights into antibiotic development, providing potential options against drug-resistant bacteria and advancing our understanding of microbial biology.

This work describes an example of using τ-Random Acceleration Molecular Dynamics (τRAMD) in kinetic calculations.