Phosphorylation Mechanism of N-acetyl-L-Glutamate Kinase, a QM/MM Study

James McClory, Gui-Xiang Hu, Jian-Wei Zou, David J. Timson, Meilan Huang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In microorganisms and plants, N-acetyl-l-glutamate kinase (NAGK) catalyzes the second step in l-arginine synthesis, the phosphorylation of N-Acetyl-l-glutamate (NAG) to give N-acetyl-l-glutamate-5-phosphate. NAGK is only present in microorganisms and plants but absent in mammals, which makes it an attractive target for antimicrobial or biocidal development. Understanding the substrate binding mode and reaction mechanism of NAGK is crucial for targeting the kinase to develop potential therapies. Here, the substrate binding mode was studied by comparing the conformational change of NAGK in the presence and in the absence of the NAG substrate based on molecular dynamics simulations. We revealed that with substrate binding, the catalytic site of the kinase involving three loops in NAGK exhibits a closed conformation, which is predominantly controlled by an interaction between Arg98 and the α-COO - of NAG. Lys41 is found to guide phosphate transfer through the interactions with the β-,γ-, and γ-phosphate oxygen atoms of adenosine 5′-triphosphate surrounded by two highly conserved glycine residues (Gly44 and Gly76), while Arg98 helps to position the NAG substrate in the catalytic site, which facilitates the phosphate transfer. Furthermore, we elucidated phosphate-transfer reaction mechanism using hybrid density functional theory-based quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics calculations (B97D/AMBER99) and found that the catalysis follows a dissociative mechanism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2844-2852
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
    Issue number13
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2019


    Dive into the research topics of 'Phosphorylation Mechanism of N-acetyl-L-Glutamate Kinase, a QM/MM Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this