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The catalytic mechanism of MsrA in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in which S-methionine sulfoxide (Met-O) is reduced to methionine (Met), has been investigated using docking, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and ONIOM (quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics) methods. In addition, the roles of specific active site residues, including an aspartyl (Asp87) near the recycling cysteine, tyrosyls (Tyr44 and Tyr92), and glutamyl (Glu52), have been examined, as well as the general effects of the protein and active site on the nature and properties of mechanistic intermediates. The mechanism is initiated by the transfer of a proton from the catalytic cysteine’s thiol (Cys13SH) via a bridging water to the R group carboxylate of Glu52. The now anionic sulfur of Cys13 nucleophilically attacks the substrate’s sulfur with concomitant transfer of a proton from Glu52 to the sulfoxide oxygen, generating a sulfurane. The active site enhances the proton affinity of the sulfurane oxygen, which can readily accept a proton from the phenolic hydroxyls of Tyr44 or Tyr92 to give a sulfonium cation. Subsequently, Asp87 and the recycling cysteine (Cys154) can facilitate nucleophilic attack of a solvent water at the Cys13S center of the sulfonium to give a sulfenic acid (Cys13SOH) and Met. For the subsequent reduction of Cys13SOH with intramolecular disulfide bond formation, Asp87 can help facilitate nucleophilic attack of Cys154S at the sulfur of Cys13SOH by deprotonating its thiol. This reduction is found likely to occur readily upon suitable positioning of the active site hydrogen bond network and the sulfur centers of both Cys13 and Cys154. The calculated rate-limiting barrier is in good agreement with experiment.




Funding Statement

This work was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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