, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 221-235
Date: 04 Jun 2010

Methods of NMR structure refinement: molecular dynamics simulations improve the agreement with measured NMR data of a C-terminal peptide of GCN4-p1

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The C-terminal trigger sequence is essential in the coiled-coil formation of GCN4-p1; its conformational properties are thus of importance for understanding this process at the atomic level. A solution NMR model structure of a peptide, GCN4p16–31, encompassing the GCN4-p1 trigger sequence was proposed a few years ago. Derived using a standard single-structure refinement protocol based on 172 nuclear Overhauser effect (NOE) distance restraints, 14 hydrogen-bond and 11 ϕ torsional-angle restraints, the resulting set of 20 NMR model structures exhibits regular α-helical structure. However, the set slightly violates some measured NOE bounds and does not reproduce all 15 measured 3J(HN-H)-coupling constants, indicating that different conformers of GCN4p16–31 might be present in solution. With the aim to resolve structures compatible with all NOE upper distance bounds and 3J-coupling constants, we executed several structure refinement protocols employing unrestrained and restrained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with two force fields. We find that only configurational ensembles obtained by applying simultaneously time-averaged NOE distance and 3J-coupling constant restraining with either force field reproduce all the experimental data. Additionally, analyses of the simulated ensembles show that the conformational variability of GCN4p16–31 in solution admitted by the available set of 187 measured NMR data is larger than represented by the set of the NMR model structures. The conformations of GCN4p16–31 in solution differ in the orientation not only of the side-chains but also of the backbone. The inconsistencies between the NMR model structures and the measured NMR data are due to the neglect of averaging effects and the inclusion of hydrogen-bond and torsional-angle restraints that have little basis in the primary, i.e. measured NMR data.