Energy landscapes of human acetylcholinesterase and its huperzine A-inhibited counterpart
Enzymes are animated by a hierarchy of motions occurring on time scales that span more than 15 orders of magnitude from femtoseconds (10-15 s) to several minutes. As a consequence, an enzyme is characterized by a large number of conformations, so-called conformational substates that interconvert via molecular motions. The energy landscapes of these macromolecules are very complex, and many conformations are separated by only small energy barriers. Movements at this level are fast thermal atomic motions occurring on a time scale between 10-7 and 10-12 s, which are experimentally accessible by incoherent neutron scattering techniques. They correspond to local fluctuations within the molecule and are believed to act as coupling links for larger, conformational changes. Several questions related to this hierarchy of motions are a matter of very active research: which of the motions are involved in the biological functions of the macromolecule and are motions of different energy (and thus time) scale correlated? How does the distribution of motions change when an enzyme is inhibited? We report here on investigations of the enzyme human acetylcholinesterase, unliganded and in complex with the noncovalent inhibitor Huperzine A, by incoherent neutron scattering. Different time scales are explored to shed light on the interplay of enzyme activity, dynamics, and inhibition. Surprisingly the average molecular dynamics do not seem to be altered by the presence of the inhibitor used in this study within the considered time scales. The activation energy for the free and the inhibited form of the enzyme is moreover found to be almost identical despite changes of interactions inside the gorge, which leads to the active site of the enzyme.
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