A comparative molecular dynamics study of thermophilic and mesophilic ribonuclease HI enzymes

J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2007 Feb;24(4):379-92. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2007.10507127.


We studied a pair of homologous thermophilic and mesophilic ribonuclease HI enzymes by molecular dynamics simulations. Each protein was subjected to three 5 ns simulations in explicit water at both 310 K and 340 K. The thermophilic enzyme showed larger overall positional fluctuations at both temperatures, while only the mesophilic enzyme at the higher temperature showed significant instability. When the temperature is changed, the relative flexibility of different local segments on the two proteins changed differently. Principal component analysis showed that the simulations of the two proteins explored largely overlapping regions in the conformational space. However, at 340 K, the collective structure variations of the thermophilic protein are different from those of the mesophilic protein. Our results, although not in accordance with the view that hyperthermostability of proteins may originate from their conformational rigidity, are consistent with several recent experimental and simulation studies which showed that thermophilic proteins may be conformationally more flexible than their mesophilic counterparts. The decorrelation between conformational rigidity and hyperthermostability may be attributed to the temperature dependence and long range nature of electrostatic interactions that play more important roles in the structural stability of thermophilic proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Ribonuclease H / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Ribonuclease H
  • ribonuclease HI