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Leaving Group Ability Observably Affects Transition State Structure in a Single Enzyme Active Site

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journal contribution
posted on 17.05.2016, 00:00 by Daniel Roston, Darren Demapan, Qiang Cui
A reaction’s transition state (TS) structure plays a critical role in determining reactivity and has important implications for the design of catalysts, drugs, and other applications. Here, we explore TS structure in the enzyme alkaline phosphatase using hybrid Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics simulations. We find that minor perturbations to the substrate have major effects on TS structure and the way the enzyme stabilizes the TS. Substrates with good leaving groups (LGs) have little cleavage of the phosphorus–LG bond at the TS, while substrates with poor LGs have substantial cleavage of that bond. The results predict nonlinear free energy relationships for a single rate-determining step, and substantial differences in kinetic isotope effects for different substrates; both trends were observed in previous experimental studies, although the original interpretations differed from the present model. Moreover, due to different degrees of phosphorus–LG bond cleavage at the TS for different substrates, the LG is stabilized by different interactions at the TS: while a poor LG is directly stabilized by an active site zinc ion, a good LG is mainly stabilized by active site water molecules. Our results demonstrate the considerable plasticity of TS structure and stabilization in enzymes. Furthermore, perturbations to reactivity that probe TS structure experimentally (i.e., substituent effects) may substantially perturb the TS they aim to probe, and thus classical experimental approaches such as free energy relations should be interpreted with care.