American Chemical Society
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Markov State Models and Molecular Dynamics Simulations Reveal the Conformational Transition of the Intrinsically Disordered Hypervariable Region of K‑Ras4B to the Ordered Conformation

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-08-22, 16:20 authored by Hao Zhang, Duan Ni, Jigang Fan, Minyu Li, Jian Zhang, Chen Hua, Ruth Nussinov, Shaoyong Lu
K-Ras4B, the most frequently mutated Ras isoform in human tumors, plays a vital part in cell growth, differentiation, and survival. Its tail, the C-terminal hypervariable region (HVR), is involved in anchoring K-Ras4B at the cellular plasma membrane and in isoform-specific protein–protein interactions and signaling. In the inactive guanosine diphosphate-bound state, the intrinsically disordered HVR interacts with the catalytic domain at the effector-binding region, rendering K-Ras4B in its autoinhibited state. Activation releases the HVR from the catalytic domain, with its ensemble favoring an ordered α-helical structure. The large-scale conformational transition of the HVR from the intrinsically disordered to the ordered conformation remains poorly understood. Here, we deploy a computational scheme that integrates a transition path-generation algorithm, extensive molecular dynamics simulation, and Markov state model analysis to investigate the conformational landscape of the HVR transition pathway. Our findings reveal a stepwise pathway for the HVR transition and uncover several key conformational substates along the transition pathway. Importantly, key interactions between the HVR and the catalytic domain are unraveled, highlighting the pathogenesis of K-Ras4B mild mutations in several congenital developmental anomaly syndromes. Together, these findings provide a deeper understanding of the HVR transition mechanism and the regulation of K-Ras4B activity at an atomic level.