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Protein Flexibility and Stiffness Enable Efficient Enzymatic Catalysis

Richard, John P.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019 v.141 no.8 pp. 3320-3331
catalysts, catalytic activity, energy, models, phosphates, triose-phosphate isomerase
The enormous rate accelerations observed for many enzyme catalysts are due to strong stabilizing interactions between the protein and reaction transition state. The defining property of these catalysts is their specificity for binding the transition state with a much higher affinity than substrate. Experimental results are presented which show that the phosphodianion-binding energy of phosphate monoester substrates is used to drive conversion of their protein catalysts from flexible and entropically rich ground states to stiff and catalytically active Michaelis complexes. These results are generalized to other enzyme-catalyzed reactions. The existence of many enzymes in flexible, entropically rich, and inactive ground states provides a mechanism for utilization of ligand-binding energy to mold these catalysts into stiff and active forms. This reduces the substrate-binding energy expressed at the Michaelis complex, while enabling the full and specific expression of large transition-state binding energies. Evidence is presented that the complexity of enzyme conformational changes increases with increases in the enzymatic rate acceleration. The requirement that a large fraction of the total substrate-binding energy be utilized to drive conformational changes of floppy enzymes is proposed to favor the selection and evolution of protein folds with multiple flexible unstructured loops, such as the TIM-barrel fold. The effect of protein motions on the kinetic parameters for enzymes that undergo ligand-driven conformational changes is considered. The results of computational studies to model the complex ligand-driven conformational change in catalysis by triosephosphate isomerase are presented.