QM/MM Simulations of Protein Crystal Reactivity Guided by MSOX Crystallography: A Copper Nitrite Reductase Case Study

J Phys Chem B. 2021 Aug 19;125(32):9102-9114. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.1c03661. Epub 2021 Aug 6.


The recently developed multiple structures from one crystal (MSOX) serial crystallography method can be used to provide multiple snapshots of the progress of enzymatic reactions taking place within a protein crystal. Such MSOX snapshots can be used as a reference for combined quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) simulations of enzyme reactivity within the crystal. QM/MM calculations are used to identify details of reference states that cannot be directly observed by X-ray diffraction experiments, such as protonation and oxidation states. These reference states are then used as known fixed endpoints for the modeling of reaction paths. We investigate the mechanism of nitrite reduction in an Achromobacter cycloclastes copper nitrite reductase crystal using MSOX-guided QM/MM calculations, identifying the change in nitrite binding orientation with a change in copper oxidation state, and determining the reaction path to the final NO-bound MSOX structure. The results are compared with QM/MM simulations performed in a solvated environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Copper
  • Crystallography
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nitrite Reductases*
  • Nitrites*


  • Nitrites
  • Copper
  • Nitrite Reductases
  • nitrite reductase, copper-containing