Binding Free energy Decomposition and Multiple Unbinding Paths of Buried Ligands in a PreQ1 Riboswitch [article]

Guodong Hu, Huan-Xiang Zhou
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
AbstractRiboswitches are naturally occurring RNA elements that control bacterial gene expression by binding to specific small molecules. They serve as important models for RNA-small molecule recognition and have also become a novel class of targets for developing antibiotics. Here, we carried out conventional and enhanced-sampling molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, totaling 141.5 μs, to characterize the determinants of binding free energies and unbinding paths for the cognate and synthetic
more » ... ands of a PreQ1 riboswitch. Binding free energy analysis showed that two triplets of nucleotides U6-C15-A29 and G5-G11-C16, contribute the most to the binding of the cognate ligands, by hydrogen bonding and by base stacking, respectively. Mg2+ ions are essential in stabilizing the binding pocket. For the synthetic ligands, the hydrogen-bonding contributions of the U6-C15-A29 triplet are significantly compromised, and the bound state resembles the apo state in several respects, including the disengagement of the C15-A14-A13 and A32-G33 base stacks. The bulkier synthetic ligands lead to significantly loosening of the binding pocket, including extrusion of the C15 nucleobase and a widening of the C15-C30 groove. Enhanced-sampling simulations further revealed that the cognate and synthetic ligands unbind in almost opposite directions. Our work offers new insight for designing riboswitch ligands.
doi:10.1101/2021.07.13.452201 fatcat:xpf3gvotqvbgtjhxhqaarrkg6a