Ras conformational switching: Simulating nucleotide- dependent conformational transitions with accelerated molecular dynamics

  • B.J. G
  • A.A. G
  • J.A. M
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Abstract

Ras mediates signaling pathways controlling cell proliferation and development by cycling between GTP- and GDP-bound active and inactive conformational states. Understanding the complete reaction path of this conformational change and its intermediary structures is critical to understanding Ras signaling. We characterize nucleotide-dependent conformational transition using multiple-barrier-crossing accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD) simulations. These transitions, achieved for the first time for wild-type Ras, are impossible to observe with classical molecular dynamics (cMD) simulations due to the large energetic barrier between end states. Mapping the reaction path onto a conformer plot describing the distribution of the crystallographic structures enabled identification of highly populated intermediate structures. These structures have unique switch orientations (residues 25-40 and 57-75) intermediate between GTP and GDP states, or distinct loop3 (46-49), loop7 (105-110), and alpha5 C-terminus (159-166) conformations distal from the nucleotide-binding site. In addition, these barrier-crossing trajectories predict novel nucleotide-dependent correlated motions, including correlations of alpha2 (residues 66-74) with alpha3-loop7 (93-110), loop2 (26-37) with loop10 (145-151), and loop3 (46-49) with alpha5 (152-167). The interconversion between newly identified Ras conformations revealed by this study advances our mechanistic understanding of Ras function. In addition, the pattern of correlated motions provides new evidence for a dynamic linkage between the nucleotide-binding site and the membrane interacting C-terminus critical for the signaling function of Ras. Furthermore, normal mode analysis indicates that the dominant collective motion that occurs during nucleotidedependent conformational exchange, and captured in aMD (but absent in cMD) simulations, is a low-frequency motion intrinsic to the structure.

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B.J., G., A.A., G., & J.A., M. (2009). Ras conformational switching: Simulating nucleotide- dependent conformational transitions with accelerated molecular dynamics. PLoS Computational Biology. B. J. Grant, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States. E-mail: bgrant@mccammon.ucsd.edu: Public Library of Science (185 Berry Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco CA 94107, United States). Retrieved from http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/fetchObjectAttachment.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000325&representation=PDF

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