American Chemical Society
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Unraveling the Allosteric Communication Mechanisms in T‑Cell Receptor–Peptide-Loaded Major Histocompatibility Complex Dynamics Using Molecular Dynamics Simulations: An Approach Based on Dynamic Cross Correlation Maps and Residue Interaction Energy Calculations

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-04-30, 23:43 authored by Elif Naz Bingöl, Onur Serçinoğlu, Pemra Ozbek
Antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins to T-cell receptors (TCRs) plays a crucial role in triggering the adaptive immune response. Most of our knowledge on TCR–peptide-loaded major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) interaction stemmed from experiments yielding static structures, yet the dynamic aspects of this molecular interaction are equally important to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms and to develop treatment strategies against diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. To this end, computational biophysics studies including all-atom molecular dynamics simulations have provided useful insights; however, we still lack a basic understanding of an overall allosteric mechanism that results in conformational changes in the TCR and subsequent T-cell activation. Previous hydrogen–deuterium exchange and nuclear magnetic resonance studies provided clues regarding these molecular mechanisms, including global rigidification and allosteric effects on the constant domain of TCRs away from the pMHC interaction site. Here, we show that molecular dynamics simulations can be used to identify how this overall rigidification may be related to the allosteric communication within TCRs upon pMHC interaction via essential dynamics and nonbonded residue–residue interaction energy analyses. The residues taking part in the rigidification effect are highlighted with an intricate analysis on residue interaction changes, which lead to a detailed outline of the complex formation event. Our results indicate that residues of the Cβ domain of TCRs show significant differences in their nonbonded interactions upon complex formation. Moreover, the dynamic cross correlations between these residues are also increased, in line with their nonbonded interaction energy changes. Altogether, our approach may be valuable for elucidating intramolecular allosteric changes in the TCR structure upon pMHC interaction in molecular dynamics simulations.