Molecular dynamics simulations of site point mutations in the TPR domain of cyclophilin 40 identify conformational states with distinct dynamic and enzymatic properties

J Chem Phys. 2018 Apr 14;148(14):145101. doi: 10.1063/1.5019457.


Cyclophilin 40 (Cyp40) is a member of the immunophilin family that acts as a peptidyl-prolyl-isomerase enzyme and binds to the heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90). Its structure comprises an N-terminal cyclophilin domain and a C-terminal tetratricopeptide (TPR) domain. Cyp40 is overexpressed in prostate cancer and certain T-cell lymphomas. The groove for Hsp90 binding on the TPR domain includes residues Lys227 and Lys308, referred to as the carboxylate clamp, and is essential for Cyp40-Hsp90 binding. In this study, the effect of two mutations, K227A and K308A, and their combinative mutant was investigated by performing a total of 5.76 μs of all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations in explicit solvent. All simulations, except the K308A mutant, were found to adopt two distinct (extended or compact) conformers defined by different cyclophilin-TPR interdomain distances. The K308A mutant was only observed in the extended form which is observed in the Cyp40 X-ray structure. The wild-type, K227A, and combined mutant also showed bimodal distributions. The experimental melting temperature, Tm, values of the mutants correlate with the degree of compactness with the K308A extended mutant having a marginally lower melting temperature. Another novel measure of compactness determined from the MD data, the "coordination shell volume," also shows a direct correlation with Tm. In addition, the MD simulations show an allosteric effect with the mutations in the remote TPR domain having a pronounced effect on the molecular motions of the enzymatic cyclophilin domain which helps rationalise the experimentally observed increase in enzyme activity measured for all three mutations.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclophilin D
  • Cyclophilins / chemistry*
  • Cyclophilins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Point Mutation / genetics*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Domains / genetics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Transition Temperature


  • Cyclophilin D
  • Cyclophilins