The importance of ensemble averaging in enzyme kinetics

Laura Masgrau, Donald G. Truhlar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


ConspectusThe active site of an enzyme is surrounded by a fluctuating environment of protein and solvent conformational states, and a realistic calculation of chemical reaction rates and kinetic isotope effects of enzyme-catalyzed reactions must take account of this environmental diversity. Ensemble-averaged variational transition state theory with multidimensional tunneling (EA-VTST/MT) was developed as a way to carry out such calculations. This theory incorporates ensemble averaging, quantized vibrational energies, energy, tunneling, and recrossing of transition state dividing surfaces in a systematic way. It has been applied successfully to a number of hydrogen-, proton-, and hydride-transfer reactions. The theory also exposes the set of effects that should be considered in reliable rate constants calculations.We first review the basic theory and the steps in the calculation. A key role is played by the generalized free energy of activation profile, which is obtained by quantizing the classical potential of mean force as a function of a reaction coordinate because the one-way flux through the transition state dividing surface can be written in terms of the generalized free energy of activation. A recrossing transmission coefficient accounts for the difference between the one-way flux through the chosen transition state dividing surface and the net flux, and a tunneling transmission coefficient converts classical motion along the reaction coordinate to quantum mechanical motion. The tunneling calculation is multidimensional, accounting for the change in vibrational frequencies along the tunneling path and shortening of the tunneling path with respect to the minimum energy path (MEP), as promoted by reaction-path curvature. The generalized free energy of activation and the transmission coefficients both involve averaging over an ensemble of reaction paths and conformations, and this includes the coupling of protein motions to the rearrangement of chemical bonds in a statistical mechanically correct way. The standard deviations of the transmissions coefficients provide information on the diversity of the distribution of reaction paths, barriers, and protein conformations along the members of an ensemble of reaction paths passing through the transition state.We first illustrate the theory by discussing the application to both wild-type and mutant Escherichia coli dihydrofolate reductase and hyperthermophilic Thermotoga maritima dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR); DHFR is of special interest because the protein conformational changes have been widely studied. Then we present shorter discussions of several other applications of EA-VTST/MT to transfer of protons, hydrogen atoms, and hydride ions and their deuterated analogs. Systems discussed include hydride transfer in alcohol dehydrogenase, xylose isomerase, and thymidylate synthase, proton transfer in methylamine dehydrogenase, hydrogen atom transfer in methylmalonyl-CoA mutase, and nucleophilic substitution in haloalkane dehalogenase and two-dimensional potentials of mean force for potentially coupled proton and hydride transfer in the β-oxidation of butyryl-coenzyme A catalyzed by short-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and in the pyruvate to lactate transformation catalyzed by lactate dehydrogenase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Chemical Society.


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