Molecular dynamics simulation in solvent of the estrogen receptor protein DNA binding domain in complex with a non-consensus estrogen response element DNA sequence

Harris, L.F.; Sullivan, M.R.; Popken-Harris, P.D.

Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics 15(3): 407-430


ISSN/ISBN: 0739-1102
PMID: 9439992
DOI: 10.1080/07391102.1997.10508956
Accession: 009044550

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We investigated protein/DNA interactions, using molecular dynamics simulations computed between a 10 Angstom water layer model of the estrogen receptor (ER) protein DNA binding domain (DBD) amino acids and DNA of a non-consensus estrogen response element (ERE) consisting of 29 nucleotide base pairs. This ERE nucleotide sequence occurs naturally upstream of the Xenopus laevis Vitelligenin A1 gene. The ER DBD is encoded by three exons. Namely, exons 2 and 3 which encode the two zinc binding motifs and a sequence of exon 4 which encodes a predicted alpha helix. We generated a computer model of the ER DBD using atomic coordinates derived from the average of 30 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy coordinate sets. Amino acids on the carboxyl end of the ER DBD were disordered in both X-ray crystallography and NMR determinations and no coordinates were reported. This disordered region includes 10 amino acids of a predicted alpha helix encoded in exon 4 at the exon 3/4 splice junction. These amino acids are known to be important in DNA binding and are also believed to function as a nuclear translocation signal sequence for the ER protein. We generated a computer model of the predicted alpha helix consisting of the 10 amino acids encoded in exon 4 and attached this helix to the carboxyl end of the ER DBD at the exon 3/4 splice junction site. We docked the ER DBD model within the DNA major groove halfsites of the 29 base pair non-consensus ERE and flanking nucleotides. We constructed a solvated model with the ER DBD/ERE complex surrounded by a ten Angstrom water layer and conducted molecular dynamics simulations. Hydrogen bonding interactions were monitored. In addition, van der Waals and electrostatic interaction energies were calculated. Amino acids of the ER DBD DNA recognition helix formed both direct and water mediated hydrogen bonds at cognate codon-anticodon nucleotide base and backbone sites within the ERE DNA right major groove halfsite. Amino acids of the ER DBD exon 4 encoded predicted alpha helix formed direct and water mediated H-bonds with base and backbone sites of their cognate codon-anticodon nucleotides within the minor grooves flanking the ERE DNA major groove halfsites. These interactions together induced bending of the DNA into the protein.