Molecular dynamics simulations reveal a disorder-to-order transition on phosphorylation of smooth muscle myosin

L. Michel Espinoza-Fonseca, David Kast, David D. Thomas

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We have performed molecular dynamics simulations of the phosphorylated (at S-19) and the unphosphorylated 25-residue N-terminal phosphorylation domain of the regulatory light chain (RLC) of smooth muscle myosin to provide insight into the structural basis of regulation. This domain does not appear in any crystal structure, so these simulations were combined with site-directed spin labeling to define its structure and dynamics. Simulations were carried out in explicit water at 310 K, starting with an ideal α-helix. In the absence of phosphorylation, large portions of the domain (residues S-2 to K-11 and R-16 through Y-21) were metastable throughout the simulation, undergoing rapid transitions among α-helix, π-helix, and turn, whereas residues K-12 to Q-15 remained highly disordered, displaying a turn motif from 1 to 22.5 ns and a random coil pattern from 22.5 to 50 ns. Phosphorylation increased α-helical order dramatically in residues K-11 to A-17 but caused relatively little change in the immediate vicinity of the phosphorylation site (S-19). Phosphorylation also increased the overall dynamic stability, as evidenced by smaller temporal fluctuations in the root mean-square deviation. These results on the isolated phosphorylation domain, predicting a disorder-to-order transition induced by phosphorylation, are remarkably consistent with published experimental data involving site-directed spin labeling of the intact RLC bound to the two-headed heavy meromyosin. The simulations provide new insight into structural details not revealed by experiment, allowing us to propose a refined model for the mechanism by which phosphorylation affects the N-terminal domain of the RLC of smooth muscle myosin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2083-2090
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants to D.D.T. from the National Institutes of Health (AR32961). D.K. was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Training Program for Muscle Research (T32 AR07612) and the Victor Bloomfield Fellowship for Biophysics. We are grateful for the resources provided by the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.


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