Dielectric relaxation in an enzyme active site: Molecular dynamics simulations interpreted with a macroscopic continuum model
AuthorArchontis, Georgios Z.
SourceJournal of the American Chemical Society
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Dielectric relaxation plays an important role in many chemical processes in proteins, including acid-base titration, ligand binding, and charge transfer reactions. Its complexity makes experimental characterization difficult, and so, theoretical approaches are valuable. The comparison of molecular dynamics free energy simulations with simpler models such as a dielectric continuum model is especially useful for obtaining qualitative insights. We have analyzed a charge insertion process that models deprotonation or mutation of an important side chain in the active site of the enzyme aspartyl-tRNA synthetase. Complexes with the substrate aspartate and the analogue asparagine were studied. The resulting dielectric relaxation was found to involve both ligand and side chain rearrangements in the active site and to account for a large part of the overall charging free energy. With the continuum model, charge insertion is performed along a two-step pathway: insertion into a static environment, followed by relaxation of the environment. These correspond to different physical processes and require different protein dielectric constants. A low value of ∼1 is needed for the static step, consistent with the parametrization of the molecular mechanics charge set used. A value of 3-6 (depending on the exact insertion site and the nature of the ligand) is needed to describe the dielectric relaxation step. This moderate value indicates that, for this system, the local protein polarizability in the active site is within at most a factor of 2 of that expected at nonspecific positions in a protein interior.