α-Mannosidases and α-mannanases have attracted attention for the insight they provide into nucleophilic substitution at the hindered anomeric center of α-mannosides, and the potential of mannosidase inhibitors as cellular probes and therapeutic agents. We report the conformational itinerary of the family GH76 α-mannanases studied through structural analysis of the Michaelis complex and synthesis and evaluation of novel aza/imino sugar inhibitors. A Michaelis complex in an (O) S2 conformation, coupled with distortion of an azasugar in an inhibitor complex to a high energy B2,5 conformation are rationalized through ab initio QM/MM metadynamics that show how the enzyme surface restricts the conformational landscape of the substrate, rendering the B2,5 conformation the most energetically stable on-enzyme. We conclude that GH76 enzymes perform catalysis using an itinerary that passes through (O) S2 and B2,5 (≠) conformations, information that should inspire the development of new antifungal agents.
Keywords: carbohydrates; computational chemistry; conformational analysis; enzymatic mechanisms; glycosidase inhibitors.
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