This study combines molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with small angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements to investigate the range of conformations that can be adopted by a pH/ionic strength (IS) sensitive protein and to quantify its distinct populations in solution. To explore how the conformational distribution of proteins may be modified in the environmental niches of biological media, we focus on the periplasmic ferric binding protein A (FbpA) from Haemophilus influenzae involved in the mechanism by which bacteria capture iron from higher organisms. We examine iron-binding/release mechanisms of FbpA in varying conditions simulating its biological environment. While we show that these changes fall within the detectable range for SAXS as evidenced by differences observed in the theoretical scattering patterns calculated from the crystal structure models of apo and holo forms, detection of conformational changes due to the point mutation D52A and changes in ionic strength (IS) from SAXS scattering profiles have been challenging. Here, to reach conclusions, statistical analyses with SAXS profiles and results from different techniques were combined in a complementary fashion. The SAXS data complemented by size exclusion chromatography point to multiple and/or alternative conformations at physiological IS, whereas they are well-explained by single crystallographic structures in low IS buffers. By fitting the SAXS data with unique conformations sampled by a series of MD simulations under conditions mimicking the buffers, we quantify the populations of the occupied substates. We also find that the D52A mutant that we predicted by coarse-grained computational modeling to allosterically control the iron binding site in FbpA, responds to the environmental changes in our experiments with conformational selection scenarios that differ from those of the wild type.
Conformational multiplicity of bacterial ferric binding protein revealed by small angle x-ray scattering and molecular dynamics calculations
Present address: Department of Applied Physics, Science for Life Laboratory, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on New Views of Allostery.
Goksin Liu, Erhan Ekmen, Farzaneh Jalalypour, Haydyn D. T. Mertens, Cy M. Jeffries, Dmitri Svergun, Ali Rana Atilgan, Canan Atilgan, Zehra Sayers; Conformational multiplicity of bacterial ferric binding protein revealed by small angle x-ray scattering and molecular dynamics calculations. J. Chem. Phys. 28 February 2023; 158 (8): 085101. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0136558
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