Turkish Journal of Chemistry




Gram-negative bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, responsible for human infectious disease meningitis, acquires the iron (Fe3+) ion needed for its survival from human transferrin protein (hTf). For this transport, transferrin binding proteins TbpA and TbpB are facilitated by the bacterium. The transfer cannot occur without TbpA, while the absence of TbpB only slows down the transfer. Thus, understanding the TbpA-hTf binding at the atomic level is crucial for the fight against bacterial meningitis infections. In this study, atomistic level of mechanism for TbpA-hTf binding is elucidated through 100 ns long all-atom classical MD simulations on free (uncomplexed) TbpA. TbpA protein underwent conformational change from 'open' state to 'closed' state, where two loop domains, loops 5 and 8, were very close to each other. This state clearly cannot accommodate hTf in the cleft between these two loops. Moreover, the helix finger domain, which might play a critical role in Fe3+ ion uptake, also shifted downwards leading to unfavorable Tbp-hTf binding. Results of this study indicated that TbpA must switch between 'closed' state to `open? state, where loops 5 and 8 are far from each other creating a cleft for hTf binding. The atomistic level of understanding to conformational switch is crucial for TbpA-hTf complex inhibition strategies. Drug candidates can be designed to prevent this conformational switch, keeping TbpA locked in `closed? state.


Neisseria meningitidis, transferrin binding protein TbpA, human transferrin protein hTf, molecular dynamics, structural rearrangement

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