Metalloproteases have evolved in a vast number of biological systems, being one of the most diverse types of proteases and presenting a wide range of folds and catalytic metal ions. Given the increasing understanding of protein internal dynamics and its role in enzyme function, we are interested in assessing how the structural heterogeneity of metalloproteases translates into their dynamics. Therefore, the dynamical profile of the clan MA type protein thermolysin, derived from an Elastic Network Model of protein structure, was evaluated against those obtained from a set of experimental structures and molecular dynamics simulation trajectories. A close correspondence was obtained between modes derived from the coarse-grained model and the subspace of functionally-relevant motions observed experimentally, the later being shown to be encoded in the internal dynamics of the protein. This prompted the use of dynamics-based comparison methods that employ such coarse-grained models in a representative set of clan members, allowing for its quantitative description in terms of structural and dynamical variability. Although members show structural similarity, they nonetheless present distinct dynamical profiles, with no apparent correlation between structural and dynamical relatedness. However, previously unnoticed dynamical similarity was found between the relevant members Carboxypeptidase Pfu, Leishmanolysin, and Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A, despite sharing no structural similarity. Inspection of the respective alignments shows that dynamical similarity has a functional basis, namely the need for maintaining proper intermolecular interactions with the respective substrates. These results suggest that distinct selective pressure mechanisms act on metalloproteases at structural and dynamical levels through the course of their evolution. This work shows how new insights on metalloprotease function and evolution can be assessed with comparison schemes that incorporate information on protein dynamics. The integration of these newly developed tools, if applied to other protein families, can lead to more accurate and descriptive protein classification systems.
- Evolution, Molecular
- Models, Molecular
- Comparative Study
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't