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Understanding Complex Mechanisms of Enzyme Reactivity: The Case of Limonene-1,2-Epoxide Hydrolases

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journal contribution
posted on 14.05.2018, 00:00 by Silvia Rinaldi, Marc W. Van der Kamp, Kara E. Ranaghan, Adrian J. Mulholland, Giorgio Colombo
Limonene-1,2-epoxide hydrolases (LEHs), a subset of the epoxide hydrolase family, present interesting opportunities for the mild, regio- and stereo- selective hydrolysis of epoxide substrates. However, moderate enantioselectivity for non-natural ligands, combined with narrow substrate specificity, has so far limited the use of LEHs as general biocatalytic tools. A detailed molecular understanding of the structural and dynamic determinants of activity may complement directed evolution approaches to expand the range of applicability of these enzymes. Herein, we have combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) free energy calculations for the reaction with MD simulations of the enzyme internal dynamics, and the calculation of binding affinities (using the WaterSwap method) for various representatives of the enzyme conformational ensemble, to show that the presence of natural or non-natural substrates differentially modulates the dynamic and catalytic behavior of LEH. The cross-talk between the protein and the ligands favors the selection of specific substrate-dependent interactions in the binding site, priming reactive complexes to select different preferential reaction pathways. The knowledge gained via our combined approach provides a molecular rationale for LEH substrate preferences. The comprehensive strategy we present here is general and broadly applicable to other cases of enzyme–substrate selectivity and reactivity.