Hierarchy of structure loss in MD simulations of src SH3 domain unfolding

TitleHierarchy of structure loss in MD simulations of src SH3 domain unfolding
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsTsai, J., Levitt M., & Baker D.
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Date Published1999 Aug 6
KeywordsComputer Simulation, Models, Molecular, Oncogene Protein pp60(v-src), Primary Publication, Protein Conformation, Protein Denaturation, Protein Folding, src Homology Domains

To complement experimental studies of the src SH3 domain folding, we studied 30 independent, high-temperature, molecular dynamics simulations of src SH3 domain unfolding. These trajectories were observed to differ widely from each other. Thus, rather than analyzing individual trajectories, we sought to identify the recurrent features of the high-temperature unfolding process. The conformations from all simulations were combined and then divided into groups based on the number of native contacts. Average occupancies of each side-chain hydrophobic contact and hydrogen bond in the protein were then determined. In the symmetric funnel limit, the occupancies of all contacts should decrease in concert with the loss in total number of native contacts. If there is a lack of symmetry or hierarchy to the unfolding process, the occupancies of some contacts should decrease more slowly, and others more rapidly. Despite the heterogeneity of the individual trajectories, the ensemble averaging revealed an order to the unfolding process: contacts between the N and C-terminal strands are the first to disappear, whereas contacts within the distal beta-hairpin and a hydrogen-bonding network involving the distal loop beta-turn and the diverging turn persist well after the majority of the native contacts are lost. This hierarchy of events resembles but is somewhat less pronounced than that observed in our experimental studies of the folding of src SH3 domain.

Alternate JournalJ. Mol. Biol.
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