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Open Access Research article

Dynamic changes in the secondary structure of ECE-1 and XCE account for their different substrate specificities

Zaheer Ul-Haq*, Sadaf Iqbal and Syed Tarique Moin

Author affiliations

Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Karachi, 75270, Pakistan

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Citation and License

BMC Bioinformatics 2012, 13:285  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-285

Published: 1 November 2012

Abstract

Background

X-converting enzyme (XCE) involved in nervous control of respiration, is a member of the M13 family of zinc peptidases, for which no natural substrate has been identified yet. In contrast, it’s well characterized homologue endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) showed broad substrate specificity and acts as endopeptidase as well as dipeptidase. To explore the structural differences between XCE and ECE-1, homology model of XCE was built using the complex structure of ECE-1 with phosphoramidon (pdb-id: 3DWB) as template. Phosphoramidon was docked into the binding site of XCE whereas phosphate oxygen of the inhibitor was used as water molecule to design the apo forms of both enzymes. Molecular dynamics simulation of both enzymes was performed to analyze the dynamic nature of their active site residues in the absence and presence of the inhibitor.

Results

Homology model of XCE explained the role of non-conserved residues of its S2’ subsite. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations identified the flexible transitions of F149/I150, N566/N571, W714/W719, and R145/R723 residues of ECE-1/XCE for the strong binding of the inhibitor. Secondary structure calculations using DSSP method reveals the folding of R145/R723 residue of ECE-1/XCE into β-sheet structure while unfolding of the S2’ subsite residues in aECE-1 and sustained compact folding of that of aXCE. The results evaluated are in good agreement with available experimental data, thus providing detailed molecular models which can explain the structural and specificities differences between both zinc peptidases.

Conclusions

Secondary structure changes of both enzymes during the simulation time revealed the importance of β-sheet structure of R145/R723 for its binding with the terminal carboxylate group of the inhibitor. Unfolding of the α-helix comprising the S2’ subsite residues in aECE-1 correlate well with its endopeptidase activity while their compact folding in aXCE may account for the inactivity of the enzyme towards large C-terminal containing substrates.