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The multidrug efflux pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp) contributes to multidrug resistance in about half of human cancers. Recently, high resolution X-ray crystal structures of mouse P-gp (inward-facing) were reported, which significantly facilitates the understanding of the function of P-gp and the structure-based design of inhibitors for P-gp. Here we perform 20‚ÄČns molecular dynamics simulations of inward-facing P-gp with/without ligand in explicit lipid and water to investigate the flexibility of P-gp for its poly-specific drug binding. By analyzing the interactions between P-gp and QZ59-RRR or QZ59-SSS, we summarize the important residues and the flexibility of different parts of P-gp. Particularly, the flexibility of the side chains of aromatic residues (Phe and Tyr) allows them to form rotamers with different orientations in the binding pocket, which plays a critical role for the poly-specificity of the drug-binding cavity of P-gp. MD simulations reveal that trans-membrane (TM) TM12 and TM6 are flexible and contribute to the poly-specific drug binding, while TM4 and TM5 are rigid and stabilize the whole structure. We also construct outward-facing P-gp based on the MsbA structure and perform 20‚ÄČns MD simulations. The comparison between the MD results for outward-facing P-gp and those for inward-facing P-gp shows that the TM parts in outward-facing P-gp undergo significant conformational change to facilitate the export of small molecules.


Ming Liu, Tingjun Hou, Zhiwei Feng, Youyong Li. The flexibility of P-glycoprotein for its poly-specific drug binding from molecular dynamics simulations. Journal of biomolecular structure & dynamics. 2013;31(6):612-29

PMID: 22888853

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