The origin of enzyme catalysis remains a question of debate despite much intense study. We report a QM/MM theoretical study of the S N2 methyl transfer reaction catalyzed by a glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT) and three mutants to test whether recent experimental observations of rate-constant reductions and variations in inverse secondary α- 3H kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) should be attributed to changes in the methyl donor-acceptor distance (DAD): Is catalysis due to a compression effect? Semiempirical (AM1) and DFT (M06-2X) methods were used to describe the QM subset of atoms, while OPLS-AA and TIP3P classical force fields were used for the protein and water molecules, respectively. The computed activation free energies and KIEs are in good agreement with experimental data, but the mutations do not meaningfully affect the DAD: Compression cannot explain the experimental variations on KIEs. On the contrary, electrostatic properties in the active site correlate with the catalytic activity of wild type and mutants. The plasticity of the enzyme moderates the effects of the mutations, explaining the rather small degree of variation in KIEs and reactivities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry