A simulation investigation on interaction mechanism between Ebola nucleoprotein and VP35 peptide

<p>Ebola viruses (EBOV) will induce acute hemorrhagic fever, which is fatal to humans and nonhuman primates. The combination of EBOV VP35 peptide with nucleoprotein N-terminal (NPNTD) is proposed based on static crystal structures in recent studies, but VP35 binding mechanism and conformational dynamics are still unclear. This investigation, using Molecular Dynamic (MD) simulation and Molecular Mechanics Generalized Born Surface Area (MM-GB/SA) energy calculation, more convincingly proves the greater roles of the protein binding mechanisms than do hints from the static crystal structure observations. Conformational analysis of the systems demonstrate that combination with VP35 may lead to the conformational transition of NPNTD from “open” to “closed” state. According to the analyses of binding free energies and their decomposition, VP35 residue R37 plays a crucial role in wild type as well as mutant systems. Mutations of I29 and L33 to aspartate as well as M34 to proline affect binding affinity mainly through influencing electrostatic interaction, which is closely related to H-bonds formation. In addition, mutations mainly affect <i>β</i>-hairpin and loop regions, among which, M34P may have the greatest influence to the binding. This study may provide specific binding mechanisms between VP35 peptide and NPNTD, especially some important residues concerning binding.</p>