Copper is essential for proper functioning of cells but is dangerous in unregulated concentrations. One of the members in the bacterial system responsible for facilitating copper homeostasis is the copper efflux regulator (CueR) protein. Upon copper binding, CueR induces transcription of additional copper homeostasis proteins via a cascade of events. There are some available crystal structures of CueR, in the holo (copper-bound), active (copper- and DNA-bound), and repressed (only DNA-bound) states, and these structures suggest that transcription initiation involves a distortion in the promoter DNA strand. In this work, we study the dynamic behavior of the protein, using molecular dynamics simulations, and compare with available electron paramagnetic resonance measurements for validation. We develop simple force-field parameters to describe the copper-binding motif, thus enabling the use of simplified, classical physics equations. This enabled us to access reasonable simulation times that illustrate global motions of the protein. Both in the holo and apo states of CueR, we observed large-scale helical bending motions that could be involved in the bending of a bound DNA molecule so that transcription activation can take place. Additionally, copper binding might afford increased rigidification of the active state via helix α6.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry