Conformational Flexibility of a Short Loop near the Active Site of the SARS-3CLpro is Essential to Maintain Catalytic Activity

Abstract

The SARS 3C-like proteinase (SARS-3CLpro), which is the main proteinase of the SARS coronavirus, is essential to the virus life cycle. This enzyme has been shown to be active as a dimer in which only one protomer is active. However, it remains unknown how the dimer structure maintains an active monomer conformation. It has been observed that the Ser139-Leu141 loop forms a short 3(10)-helix that disrupts the catalytic machinery in the inactive monomer structure. We have tried to disrupt this helical conformation by mutating L141 to T in the stable inactive monomer G11A/R298A/Q299A. The resulting tetra-mutant G11A/L141T/R298A/Q299A is indeed enzymatically active as a monomer. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the L141T mutation disrupts the 3(10)-helix and helps to stabilize the active conformation. The coil-3(10)-helix conformational transition of the Ser139-Leu141 loop serves as an enzyme activity switch. Our study therefore indicates that the dimer structure can stabilize the active conformation but is not a required structure in the evolution of the active enzyme, which can also arise through simple mutations.

DOI: 10.1038/srep20918

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Li2016ConformationalFO, title={Conformational Flexibility of a Short Loop near the Active Site of the SARS-3CLpro is Essential to Maintain Catalytic Activity}, author={Chunmei Li and Xin Teng and Yifei Qi and Bo Tang and Hailing Shi and Xiaomin Ma and Luhua Lai}, booktitle={Scientific reports}, year={2016} }