Cathepsin D (CatD; EC 126.96.36.199) family peptidases of parasitic organisms are regarded as potential drug targets as they play critical roles in the physiology and pathobiology of parasites. Previously, we characterized the biochemical features of cathepsin D isozyme 2 (CatD2) in the carcinogenic liver fluke Clonorchis sinensis (CsCatD2). In this study, we performed all-atomic molecular dynamics simulations by applying different systems for the ligand-free/bound forms under neutral and acidic conditions to investigate the pH-dependent structural alterations and associated functional changes in CsCatD2. CsCatD2 showed several distinctive characteristics as follows: 1) CsCatD2-inhibitor complex formed more hydrogen bonds; 2) acidic pH caused major conformational transitions from open to closed state in this enzyme; 3) neutral pH induced displacement of the N-terminal part to hinder the accessibility of the active site and open allosteric site of this enzyme; and 4) the flap dynamics metrics, including distance (d1), TriCα angles (θ1 and θ2), and dihedral angle (ϕ), account for the asymmetrical twisting motion of the active site of this enzyme. These findings provide an in-depth understanding of the pH-dependent structural dynamics of CsCatD2 and basic information for the rational design of an inhibitor as a drug targeting CsCatD2.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.