Insight into the phosphodiesterase mechanism from combined QM/MM free energy simulations


K.-Y. Wong and J. Gao, Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, 207 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
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Molecular dynamics simulations employing a combined quantum mechanical and molecular mechanical potential have been carried out to elucidate the reaction mechanism of the hydrolysis of a cyclic nucleotide cAMP substrate by phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B). PDE4B is a member of the PDE superfamily of enzymes that play crucial roles in cellular signal transduction. We have determined a two-dimensional potential of mean force (PMF) for the coupled phosphoryl bond cleavage and proton transfer through a general acid catalysis mechanism in PDE4B. The results indicate that the ring-opening process takes place through an SN2 reaction mechanism, followed by a proton transfer to stabilize the leaving group. The computed free energy of activation for the PDE4B-catalyzed cAMP hydrolysis is about 13 kcal·mol−1 and an overall reaction free energy is about −17 kcal·mol−1, both in accord with experimental results. In comparison with the uncatalyzed reaction in water, the enzyme PDE4B provides a strong stabilization of the transition state, lowering the free energy barrier by 14 kcal·mol−1. We found that the proton transfer from the general acid residue His234 to the O3′ oxyanion of the ribosyl leaving group lags behind the nucleophilic attack, resulting in a shallow minimum on the free energy surface. A key contributing factor to transition state stabilization is the elongation of the distance between the divalent metal ions Zn2+ and Mg2+ in the active site as the reaction proceeds from the Michaelis complex to the transition state.