Ab initio quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical molecular dynamics simulation of enzyme catalysis: The case of histone lysine methyltransferase SET7/9

Shenglong Wang, Po Hu, Yingkai Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To elucidate enzyme catalysis through computer simulation, a prerequisite is to reliably compute free energy barriers for both enzyme and solution reactions. By employing on-the-fly Born-Oppenheimer molecular dynamics simulations with the ab initio quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical approach and the umbrella sampling method, we have determined free energy profiles for the methyl-transfer reaction catalyzed by the histone lysine methyltransferase SET7/9 and its corresponding uncatalyzed reaction in aqueous solution, respectively. Our calculated activation free energy barrier for the enzyme catalyzed reaction is 22.5 kcal/mol, which agrees very well with the experimental value of 20.9 kcal/mol. The difference in potential of mean force between a corresponding prereaction state and the transition state for the solution reaction is computed to be 30.9 kcal/mol. Thus, our simulations indicate that the enzyme SET7/9 plays an essential catalytic role in significantly lowering the barrier for the methyl-transfer reaction step. For the reaction in solution, it is found that the hydrogen bond network near the reaction center undergoes a significant change, and there is a strong shift in electrostatic field from the prereaction state to the transition state, whereas for the enzyme reaction, such an effect is much smaller and the enzyme SET7/9 is found to provide a preorganized electrostatic environment to facilitate the methyl-transfer reaction. Meanwhile, we find that the transition state in the enzyme reaction is a little more dissociative than that in solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3758-3764
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 12 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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