The effect of glycosylation on structure and stability of glycoproteins has been a topic of considerable interest. In this work, we have investigated the solution conformation of the oligosaccharide and its effect on the structure and stability of the glycoprotein by carrying out a series of long Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on glycosylated Erythrina corallodendron lectin (EcorL) and nonglycosylated recombinant Erythrina corallodendron lectin (rEcorL). Our results indicate that, despite the similarity in overall three dimensional structures, glycosylated EcorL has lesser nonpolar solvent accessible surface area compared to nonglycosylated EcorL. This might explain the experimental observation of higher thermodynamic stability for glycosylated EcorL compared to nonglycosylated EcorL. Analysis of the simulation results indicates that, dynamic view of interactions between protein residues and oligosaccharide is entirely different from the static picture seen in the crystal structure. The oligosaccharide moiety had dynamically stable interactions with Lys 55 and Tyr 53, both of which are separated in sequence from the site of glycosylation, Asn 17. It is possible that glycosylation helps in forming long-range contacts between amino acids, which are separated in sequence and thus provides a folding nucleus. Thus our simulations not only reveal the conformations sampled by the oligosaccharide, but also provide novel insights into possible molecular mechanisms by which glycosylation can help in folding of the glycoprotein by formation of folding nucleus involving specific contacts with the oligosaccharide moiety.
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