Author ORCID Identifier : James W. Gauld

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The Journal of Physical Chemistry





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Threonyl-tRNA synthetase (ThrRS) is a Zn(II) containing enzyme that catalyzes the activation of threonine and its subsequent transfer to the cognate tRNA. This process is accomplished with remarkable fidelity, with ThrRS being able to discriminate its cognate substrate from similar analogues such as serine and valine. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and hybrid quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods have been used to elucidate the role of Zn(II) in the aminoacylation mechanism of ThrRS. More specifically, the role of Zn(II) and active site residues in ThrRS’s ability to discriminate between its cognate substrate L-threonine and the noncognate L-serine, L-valine, and D-threonine has been examined. The present results suggest that a role of the Zn(II) ion, with its Lewis acidity, is to facilitate deprotonation of the side chain hydroxyl groups of the aminoacyl moieties of cognate Thr-AMP and noncognate Ser-AMP substrates. In their deprotonated forms, these substrates are able to adopt a conformation preferable for aminoacyl transfer from aa-AMP onto the Ado-3′OH of the tRNAThr cosubstrate. Relative to the neutral substrates, when the substrates are first deprotonated with the assistance of the Zn(II) ion, the barrier for the rate-limiting step is decreased significantly by 42.0 and 39.2 kJ mol−1 for L-Thr-AMP and L-Ser-AMP, respectively. An active site arginyl also plays a key role in stabilizing the buildup of negative charge on the substrate’s bridging phosphate oxygen during the mechanism. For the enantiomeric substrate analogue D-Thr-AMP, product formation is highly disfavored, and as a result, the reverse reaction has a very low barrier of 16.0 kJ mol−1 .



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