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Theoretical study of the ligand-CYP2B4 complexes: Effect of structure on binding free energies and heme spin state

The molecular origins of temperature-dependent ligand-binding affinities and ligand-induced heme spin state conversion have been investigated using free energy analysis and DFT calculations for substrates and inhibitors of cytochrome P450 2B4 (CYP2B4), employing models of CYP2B4 based on CYP2C5(3LVdH)/CYP2C9 crystal structures, and the results compared with experiment. DFT calculations indicate that large heme-ligand interactions (ca. -15 kcal/mol) are required for inducing a high to low spin heme transition, which is correlated with large molecular electrostatic potentials (approximately -45 kcal/mol) at the ligand heteroatom. While type II ligands often contain oxygen and nitrogen heteroatoms that ligate heme iron, DFT results indicate that BP and MF heme complexes, with weak substrate-heme interactions (ca. -2 kcal/mol), and modest MEPS minima (>-35 kcal/mol) are high spin. In contrast, heme complexes of the CYP2B4 inhibitor, 4PI, the product of benzphetamine metabolism, DMBP, and water are low spin, have substantial heme-ligand interaction energies (<-15 kcal/mol) and deep MEPS minima (<-45 kcal/mol) near their heteroatoms. MMPBSA analysis of MD trajectories were made to estimate binding free energies of these ligands at the heme binding site of CYP2B4. In order to initially assess the realism of this approach, the binding free energy of 4PI inhibitor was computed and found to be a reasonable agreement with experiment: -7.7 kcal/mol [-7.2 kcal/mol (experiment)]. BP was determined to be a good substrate [-6.3 kcal/mol (with heme-ligand water), -7.3 kcal/mol (without ligand water)/-5.8 kcal/mol (experiment)], whereas the binding of MF was negligible, with only marginal binding binding free energy of -1.7 kcal/mol with 2-MF bound [-3.8 kcal/mol (experiment)], both with and without retained heme-ligand water. Analysis of the free energy components reveal that hydrophobic/nonpolar contributions account for approximately 90% of the total binding free energy of these substrates and are the source of their differential and temperature-dependent CYP2B4 binding. The results indicate the underlying origins of the experimentally observed differential binding affinities of BP and MF, and indicate the plausibility of the use of models derived from moderate sequence identity templates in conjunction with approximate free energy methods in the estimation of ligand-P450 binding affinities


Harris, D., Park, JY., Gruenke, L., & Waskell, L. (2004). Theoretical study of the ligand-CYP2B4 complexes: Effect of structure on binding free energies and heme spin state. Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics, 55(4), 895-914. https://doi.org/10.1002/prot.20062

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