Elucidating the structural and conformational factors responsible for the activity and substrate specificity of alkanesulfonate monooxygenase

The mechanism and substrate specificity of alkanesulfonate monooxygenase (SsuD) was investigated by combining molecular dynamics simulations, docking, and a comprehensive quantitative structure activity relationships (QSAR) analysis. The FMNH2 dependent monooxygenase undergoes a dynamic conformational change of the active site, passing from a closed to an open state. As a consequence, substrates have access to the active site and the cofactor is then regenerated by the associated oxidoreductase FMN reductase SsuE.. Computational analysis of the interaction of SsuD with FMNH2 based on molecular docking and multiple 20 ns molecular dynamics simulations pointed out that the conformational change is mainly driven by salt bridge formation between Arg297 and Glu20 or Asp111. A set of substrates accepted by SsuD were described by means of ALMOND chemical descriptors and a partial least square (PLS) mathematical model was constructed. The PLS model correlates the structure of substrates and enzyme activity, namely kinetic properties (kcat/KM). Therefore, information coming from the PLS analysis goes beyond the simple ability of the enzyme to recognize the substrate, but includes the factors that affect the capacity of the enzyme to reduce the activation energy of the rate determining step of the reaction. The two principal components of the model are able to describe both steric and electronic factors and, more importantly, their interactions. Indeed, interactions of factors appear to affect significantly the ability of SsuD of transforming efficiently a substrate.