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Cheng Zhu's blog

A structure-based sliding-rebinding mechanism for catch bonds

This is a paper by Jizhong Lou and myself, which is in press in Biophysical Journal.

Abstract.  Catch bonds, whose lifetimes are prolonged by force, have been observed in selectin-ligand interactions and other systems. Several biophysical models have been proposed to explain this counter-intuitive phenomenon, but none was based on the structure of the interacting molecules and the noncovalent interactions at the binding interface. Here we used molecular dynamics simulations to study changes in structure and atomic-level interactions during forced unbinding of P-selectin from P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1. A mechanistic model for catch bonds was developed based on these observations. In the model, "catch" results from forced opening of an interdomain hinge that tilts the binding interface to allow two sides of the contact to slide against each other. Sliding promotes formation of new interactions and even rebinding to the original state, thereby slowing dissociation and prolonging bond lifetimes. Properties of this sliding-rebinding mechanism were explored using a pseudo-atom representation and Monte Carlo simulations. The model has been supported by its ability to fit experimental data and can be related to previously proposed two-pathway models.

How can we obtain more information from protein structure?

We know - or believe - protein function is determined by structure. Crystallographic and NMR studies can provide protein structures with atomic-level details at equilibrium. MD simulations can follow protein conformational changes in time with fs temporal resolution in the absence or presence of a bias mechanism, e.g., applied force, used to induce such changes.

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