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    PDZ domains constitute common models to study single-domain allostery without significant structural changes. The third PDZ domain of PSD-95 (PDZ3) is known to have selective structural features that confer unique modulatory roles to this unit. In this model system, two residues, H372 directly connected to the binding site and G330 holding an off-binding-site position, were designated to assess the effect of mutations on binding selectivity. It has been observed that the H372A and G330T-H372A mutations change ligand preferences from class I (T/S amino acid at position -2 of the ligand) to class II (hydrophobic amino acid at the same position). Alternatively, the G330T single mutation leads to the recognition of both ligand classes. We have performed a series of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations for wild-type, H372A, and G330T single mutants and a double mutant of PDZ3 in the absence and presence of both types of ligands. With the combination of free-energy difference calculations and a detailed analysis of MD trajectories, "class switching" and "class bridging" behavior of PDZ3 mutants, as well as their effects on ligand selection and binding affinities are explained. We show that the dynamics of the charged N-terminus plays a fundamental role in determining the binding preferences in PDZ3 by altering the electrostatic energy. These findings are corroborated by simulations on N-terminus-truncated versions of these systems. The dynamical allostery orchestrated by the N-terminus offers a fresh perspective to the study of communication pathways in proteins.


    Tandac F Guclu, Nazli Kocatug, Ali Rana Atilgan, Canan Atilgan. N-Terminus of the Third PDZ Domain of PSD-95 Orchestrates Allosteric Communication for Selective Ligand Binding. Journal of chemical information and modeling. 2021 Jan 25;61(1):347-357

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    PMID: 33331776

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