Glycosylation regulates vital cellular processes and dramatically influences protein folding and stability. In particular, experiments have demonstrated that asparagine (N)-linked disaccharides drive a "conformational switch" in a model peptide. The present work investigates this conformational switch via extensive atomically detailed replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations in explicit solvent. To distinguish the effects of specific and nonspecific interactions upon the peptide conformational ensemble, these simulations considered model peptides that were N-linked to a disaccharide and to a steric crowder of the same shape. The simulations are remarkably consistent with experiment and provide detailed insight into the peptide structure ensemble. They suggest that steric crowding by N-linked disaccharides excludes extended conformations, but does not significantly impact the tetrahedral structure of the surrounding solvent or otherwise alter the peptide free energy surface. However, the combination of steric crowding with specific hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic stacking interactions more dramatically impacts the peptide ensemble and stabilizes new structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry