The human APOBEC3G protein (A3G) is a single-stranded DNA deaminase that inhibits the replication of retrotransposons and retroviruses, including HIV-1. Atomic details of A3G's catalytic mechanism have started to emerge, as the structure of its catalytic domain (A3Gctd) has been revealed by NMR and X-ray crystallography. The NMR and crystal structures are similar overall; however, differences are apparent for β2 strand (β2) and loops close to the catalytic site. To add some insight into these differences and to better characterize A3Gctd dynamics, we calculated its free energy profile by using the Generalized-Born surface area (GBSA) method accompanied with a molecular dynamics simulation. The GBSA method yielded an enthalpy term for A3Gctd's free energy, and we developed a new method that takes into account the distribution of the protein's dihedral angles to calculate its entropy term. The structure solved by NMR was found to have a lower energy than that of the crystal structure, suggesting that this conformation is dominant in solution. In addition, β2-loop-β2' configuration was stable throughout a 20-ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. This finding suggests that in solution A3Gctd is not likely to adopt the continuous β2 strand configuration present in the APOBEC2 crystal structure. In the NMR structure, the solvent water accessibility of the catalytic Zn2+ was limited throughout the 20-ns MD simulation. This result explains previous observations in which A3G did not bind or catalyze single cytosine nucleotide, even when at excessive concentrations.
- Free energy surface
- Molecular dynamics simulation
- Protein structure