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The carboxylation status of Osteocalcin (Ocn) not only influences formation and structure in bones but also has important endocrine functions affecting energy metabolism and expenditure. In this study, the role of γ-carboxylation of the glutamate residues in the structure-dynamics-function relationship in Ocn is investigated. Three forms of Ocn, differentially carboxylated at the Glu-17, 21 and 24 residues, along with a mutated form of Ocn carrying Glu/Ala mutations, are modeled and simulated using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation in the presence of calcium ions. Characterization of the global conformational dynamics of Ocn, described in terms of the orientational variations within its 3-helical domain, highlights large structural variations in the non-carboxylated osteocalcin (nOcn). The bi-carboxylated Ocn (bOcn) and tri-carboxylated (tOcn) species, in contrast, display relatively rigid tertiary structures, with the dynamics of most regions strongly correlated. Radial distribution functions calculated for both bOcn and tOcn show long-range ordering of the calcium ion distribution around the carboxylated glutamate (γGlu) residues, likely playing an important role in promoting stability of these Ocns. Additionally, the same calcium ions are observed to coordinate with neighboring γGlu, better shielding their negative charges and in turn stabilizing these systems more than do the singly coordinating calcium ions observed in the case of nOcn. bOcn is also found to exhibit a more helical C-terminal structure, that has been shown to activate its cellular receptor GPRC6A, highlighting the allosteric role of Ocn carboxylation in modulating the stability and binding potential of the active C-terminal. The carboxylation status of Ocn as well and its calcium coordination appear to have a direct influence on Ocn structure and dynamics, possibly leading to the known differences in Ocn biological function. Modification of Ocn sequence or its carboxylation state may provide the blueprint for developing high-affinity peptides targeting its cellular receptor GPRC6A, with therapeutic potential for treatment of metabolic disorders. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Karan Kapoor, Min Pi, Satoru Kenneth Nishimoto, Leigh Darryl Quarles, Jerome Baudry, Jeremy C Smith. The carboxylation status of osteocalcin has important consequences for its structure and dynamics. Biochimica et biophysica acta. General subjects. 2021 Mar;1865(3):129809

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PMID: 33340588

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