Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor

Dr. Donald Hamelberg

Second Advisor

Dr. Ivaylo Ivanov

Third Advisor

Dr. Aimin Liu

Abstract

Pin1 is an enzyme central to cell signaling pathways because it catalyzes the cistrans isomerization of the peptide ω-bond in phosphorylated serine/threonine-proline motifs in many proteins. This regulatory function makes Pin1 a drug target in the treatment of various diseases. The effects of phosphorylation on Pin1 substrates and the basis for Pin1 recognition are not well understood. The conformational consequences of phosphorylation on Pin1 substrate analogues and the mechanism of recognition by the catalytic domain of Pin1 were determined using molecular dynamics simulations. Phosphorylation perturbs the backbone conformational space of Pin1 substrate analogues. It is also shown that Pin1 recognizes specific conformations of its substrate by conformational selection. Dynamical correlated motions in the free Pin1 enzyme are present in the enzyme of the enzyme–substrate complex when the substrate is in the transition state configuration. This suggests that these motions play a significant role during catalysis. These results provide a detailed mechanistic understanding of Pin1 substrate recognition that can be exploited for drug design purposes and further our understanding of the subtleties of post-translational phosphorylation and cistrans isomerization.

Results from accelerated molecular dynamics simulations indicate that catalysis occurs along a restricted path of the backbone configuration of the substrate, selecting specific subpopulations of the conformational space of the substrate in the active site of Pin1. The simulations show that the enzyme–substrate interactions are coupled to the state of the prolyl peptide bond during catalysis. The transition-state configuration of the substrate binds better than the cis and trans states to the catalytic domain of Pin1. This suggests that Pin1 catalyzes its substrate by noncovalently stabilizing the transition state. These results suggest an atomistic detail understanding of the catalytic mechanism of Pin1 that is necessary for the design of novel inhibitors and the treatment of several diseases. Additionally, a set of constant force biased molecular dynamics simulations are presented to explore the kinetic properties of a Pin1 substrate and its unphosphorylated analogue. The simulations indicate that the phosphorylated Pin1 substrate isomerizes slower than the unphosphorylated analogue. This is due to the lower diffusion constant for the phosphorylated Pin1 substrate.

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