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Capturing Substrate Translocation in an ABC Exporter at the Atomic Level

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posted on 08.07.2020, 17:34 by Hendrik Göddeke, Lars V. Schäfer
ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters chemomechanically couple ATP binding and hydrolysis to large-scale conformational changes, ultimately leading to substrate translocation across biological membranes. Despite recent progress in the structure determination of substrate-bound ABC exporters, the inherently dynamic mechanism of substrate transport remains unclear at the atomic level. In this work, we capture substrate translocation in the heterodimeric ABC exporter TM287/288 from the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima using all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Unguided multimicrosecond simulations at 375 K show how the drugs daunorubicin and verapamil, which were initially docked into the ABC transporter, get translocated through the exporter by following its large-scale alternating access conformational transitions between an inward-facing (IF) and an outward-facing (OF) conformation. Triggered by the affinity difference due to differential solvation of the binding cavity in the IF and OF conformations, the substrates unbind from the OF transporter and partition into the lipid bilayer. While daunorubicin is stably inserted into the outer leaflet of the bilayer, verapamil dynamically flip flops between the bilayer leaflets, possibly rendering its net transport futile.

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