ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201912.0374.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biophysics Keywords: alpha-fetoprotein; estrogens; selective estrogen receptor modulators; homology-based modeling; molecular docking; protein-ligand interaction; amino acid substitutions
Online: 29 December 2019 (08:08:23 CET)
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a major embryo- and tumor-associated protein capable of binding and transporting variety of hydrophobic ligands including estrogens. AFP has been shown to inhibit estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumor growth and this can be attributed to its estrogen-binding ability. Despite AFP has long been investigated, its three-dimensional (3D) structure has not been experimentally resolved and molecular mechanisms underlying AFP-ligand interaction remain obscure. In our study we constructed homology-based 3D model of human AFP (HAFP) with the purpose to perform docking of ERα ligands, three agonists (17β-estradiol, estrone and diethylstilbestrol) and three antagonists (tamoxifen, afimoxifene and endoxifen) into the obtained structure. Based on ligand docked scoring function, we identified three putative estrogen- and antiestrogen-binding sites with different ligand binding affinities. Two high-affinity sites were located in (i) a tunnel formed within HAFP subdomains IB and IIA and (ii) opposite side of the molecule in a groove originating from cavity formed between domains I and III, while (iii) the third low-affinity site was found at the bottom of the cavity. 100 ns MD simulation allowed studying their geometries and showed that HAFP-estrogen interactions occur due to van der Waals forces, while both hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions were almost equally involved in HAFP-antiestrogen binding. MM/GBSA rescoring method estimated binding free energies (ΔGbind) and showed that antiestrogens have higher affinities to HAFP as compared to estrogens. We performed in silico point substitutions of amino acid residues to confirm their roles in HAFP-ligand interactions and showed that Thr132, Leu138, His170, Phe172, Ser217, Gln221, His266, His316, Lys453, and Asp478 residues along two disulfide bonds, Cys224-Cys270 and Cys269-Cys277 have key roles in both HAFP-estrogen and HAFP-antiestrogen binding. Data obtained in our study contribute to understanding mechanisms underlying protein-ligand interactions and anti-cancer therapy strategies based on ER-binding ligands.