Hydride transfer catalyzed by xylose isomerase: Mechanism and quantum effects

Mireia Garcia-Viloca, Cristóbal Alhambra, Donald G Truhlar, Jiali Gao

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We have applied molecular dynamics umbrella-sampling simulation and ensemble-averaged variational transition state theory with multidimensional tunneling (EA-VTST/MT) to calculate the reaction rate of xylose-to-xylulose isomerization catalyzed by xylose isomerase in the presence of two Mg2+ ions. The calculations include determination of the free energy of activation profile and ensemble averaging in the transmission coefficient. The potential energy function is approximated by a combined QM/MM/SVB method involving PM3 for the quantum mechanical (QM) subsystem, CHARMM22 and TIP3P for the molecular mechanical (MM) environment, and a simple valence bond (SVB) local function of two bond distances for the hydride transfer reaction. The simulation confirms the essential features of a mechanism postulated on the basis of kinetics and X-ray data by Whitlow et al. (Whitlow, M.; Howard, A. J.; Finzel, B. C.; Poulos, T. L.; Winborne, E.; Gilliland, G. L. Proteins 1991, 9, 153) and Ringe, Petsko, and coworkers (Labie, A.; Allen, K.-N.; Petsko, G. A.; Ringe, D. Biochemistry 1994, 33, 5469). This mechanism involves a rate-determining 1,2-hydride shift with prior and post proton transfers. Inclusion of quantum mechanical vibrational energy is important for computing the free energy of activation, and quantum mechanical tunneling effects are essential for computing kinetic isotope effects (KIEs). It is found that 85% of the reaction proceeds by tunneling and 15% by overbarrier events. The computed KIE for the ratio of hydride to deuteride transfer is in good agreement with the experimental results. The molecular dynamics simulations reveal that proton and hydride transfer reactions are assisted by breathing motions of the mobile Mg2+ ion in the active site, providing evidence for concerted motion of Mg2+ during the hydride transfer step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computational Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 30 2003


  • Hydride transfer
  • QM/MM methods
  • Quantum effects in enzyme catalysis
  • Tunneling
  • Xylose isomerase


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