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      pH-dependent Conformational Flexibility of the SARS-CoV Main Proteinase (M pro) Dimer: Molecular Dynamics Simulations and Multiple X-ray Structure Analyses

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          The SARS coronavirus main proteinase (M pro) is a key enzyme in the processing of the viral polyproteins and thus an attractive target for the discovery of drugs directed against SARS. The enzyme has been shown by X-ray crystallography to undergo significant pH-dependent conformational changes. Here, we assess the conformational flexibility of the M pro by analysis of multiple crystal structures (including two new crystal forms) and by molecular dynamics (MD) calculations. The MD simulations take into account the different protonation states of two histidine residues in the substrate-binding site and explain the pH-activity profile of the enzyme. The low enzymatic activity of the M pro monomer and the need for dimerization are also discussed.

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          Most cited references 15

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          XtalView/Xfit--A versatile program for manipulating atomic coordinates and electron density.

           Duncan Mcree (1999)
          Xfit is a model-building and map viewing program in XtalView that is used by the structural biology community including researchers in the fields of crystallography, molecular modeling, and electron microscopy. Among its distinguishing features are built-in fast Fourier transforms that allow users flexibility in map calculations including the creation of OMIT maps and the updating of structure factors to reflect model changes from within the program. Written in C and using the freely available XView toolkit, it is highly portable to almost any X-windows based workstation including Intel-based LINUX systems. Its user interface is designed to aid in facile model-building and contains a semiautomated fitting system that allows the user to interactively and rapidly build chain de novo into an electron density map. The program is highly optimized to allow such features as interactive contour levels and map calculations to be completed within a few seconds. Features in the latest version including phase-combination, solvent-flattening, automated water addition, and small-probe dot contact surfaces, as well as basic design features, are discussed. Copyright 1999 Academic Press.
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            Mechanism of the maturation process of SARS-CoV 3CL protease.

            Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an emerging infectious disease caused by a novel human coronavirus. Viral maturation requires a main protease (3CL(pro)) to cleave the virus-encoded polyproteins. We report here that the 3CL(pro) containing additional N- and/or C-terminal segments of the polyprotein sequences undergoes autoprocessing and yields the mature protease in vitro. The dimeric three-dimensional structure of the C145A mutant protease shows that the active site of one protomer binds with the C-terminal six amino acids of the protomer from another asymmetric unit, mimicking the product-bound form and suggesting a possible mechanism for maturation. The P1 pocket of the active site binds the Gln side chain specifically, and the P2 and P4 sites are clustered together to accommodate large hydrophobic side chains. The tagged C145A mutant protein served as a substrate for the wild-type protease, and the N terminus was first digested (55-fold faster) at the Gln(-1)-Ser1 site followed by the C-terminal cleavage at the Gln306-Gly307 site. Analytical ultracentrifuge of the quaternary structures of the tagged and mature proteases reveals the remarkably tighter dimer formation for the mature enzyme (K(d) = 0.35 nm) than for the mutant (C145A) containing 10 extra N-terminal (K(d) = 17.2 nM) or C-terminal amino acids (K(d) = 5.6 nM). The data indicate that immature 3CL(pro) can form dimer enabling it to undergo autoprocessing to yield the mature enzyme, which further serves as a seed for facilitated maturation. Taken together, this study provides insights into the maturation process of the SARS 3CL(pro) from the polyprotein and design of new structure-based inhibitors.
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              Dissection study on the severe acute respiratory syndrome 3C-like protease reveals the critical role of the extra domain in dimerization of the enzyme: defining the extra domain as a new target for design of highly specific protease inhibitors.

              The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 3C-like protease consists of two distinct folds, namely the N-terminal chymotrypsin fold containing the domains I and II hosting the complete catalytic machinery and the C-terminal extra helical domain III unique for the coronavirus 3CL proteases. Previously the functional role of this extra domain has been completely unknown, and it was believed that the coronavirus 3CL proteases share the same enzymatic mechanism with picornavirus 3C proteases, which contain the chymotrypsin fold but have no extra domain. To understand the functional role of the extra domain and to characterize the enzyme-substrate interactions by use of the dynamic light scattering, circular dichroism, and NMR spectroscopy, we 1) dissected the full-length SARS 3CL protease into two distinct folds and subsequently investigated their structural and dimerization properties and 2) studied the structural and binding interactions of three substrate peptides with the entire enzyme and its two dissected folds. The results lead to several findings; 1) although two dissected parts folded into the native-like structures, the chymotrypsin fold only had weak activity as compared with the entire enzyme, and 2) although the chymotrypsin fold remained a monomer within a wide range of protein concentrations, the extra domain existed as a stable dimer even at a very low concentration. This observation strongly indicates that the extra domain contributes to the dimerization of the SARS 3CL protease, thus, switching the enzyme from the inactive form (monomer) to the active form (dimer). This discovery not only separates the coronavirus 3CL protease from the picornavirus 3C protease in terms of the enzymatic mechanism but also defines the dimerization interface on the extra helical domain as a new target for design of the specific protease inhibitors. Furthermore, the determination of the preferred solution conformation of the substrate peptide S1 together with the NMR differential line-broadening and transferred nuclear Overhauser enhancement study allows us to pinpoint the bound structure of the S1 peptide.

                Author and article information

                J Mol Biol
                J. Mol. Biol
                Journal of Molecular Biology
                23 September 2005
                18 November 2005
                23 September 2005
                : 354
                : 1
                : 25-40
                [a ]Center for Drug Discovery and Design, State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 555 Zu Chong Zhi Road, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Shanghai 201203, China
                [b ]Institute of Biochemistry, Center for Structural and Cell Biology in Medicine, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Lübeck, Germany
                [c ]Tsinghua-IBP Joint Research Group for Structural Biology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084 & National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. hljiang@

                J.T. and K.H.G.V. contributed equally to this work.

                Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.



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