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QM/MM Analysis Suggests That Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) and Nucleotide Pyrophosphatase/Phosphodiesterase Slightly Tighten the Transition State for Phosphate Diester Hydrolysis Relative to Solution: Implication for Catalytic Promiscuity in the AP Superfamily

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journal contribution
posted on 11.01.2012, 00:00 by Guanhua Hou, Qiang Cui
Several members of the Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) superfamily exhibit a high level of catalytic proffciency and promiscuity in structurally similar active sites. A thorough characterization of the nature of transition state for different substrates in these enzymes is crucial for understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern those remarkable catalytic properties. In this work, we study the hydrolysis of a phosphate diester, MpNPP, in solution, two experimentally well-characterized variants of AP (R166S AP, R166S/E322Y AP) and wild type Nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase (NPP) by QM/MM calculations in which the QM method is an approximate density functional theory previously parametrized for phosphate hydrolysis (SCC-DFTBPR). The general agreements found between these calculations and available experimental data for both solution and enzymes support the use of SCC-DFTBPR/MM for a semiquantitative analysis of the catalytic mechanism and nature of transition state in AP and NPP. Although phosphate diesters are cognate substrates for NPP but promiscuous substrates for AP, the calculations suggest that their hydrolysis reactions catalyzed by AP and NPP feature similar synchronous transition states that are slightly tighter in nature compared to that in solution, due in part to the geometry of the bimetallic zinc motif. Therefore, this study provides the first direct computational support to the hypothesis that enzymes in the AP superfamily catalyze cognate and promiscuous substrates via similar transition states to those in solution. Our calculations do not support the finding of recent QM/MM studies by López-Canut and co-workers, who suggested that the same diester substrate goes through a much looser transition state in NPP/AP than in solution, a result likely biased by the large structural distortion of the bimetallic zinc site in their simulations. Finally, our calculations for different phosphate diester orientations and phosphorothioate diesters highlight that the interpretation of thio-substitution experiments is not always straightforward.