Function Switch of a Fungal Sesterterpene Synthase through Molecular Dynamics Simulation Assisted Alteration of an Aromatic Residue Cluster in the Active Pocket of PfNS

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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2024 Jun 27:e202406246. doi: 10.1002/anie.202406246. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Terpene synthases (TPSs) play pivotal roles in generating diverse terpenoids through complex cyclization pathways. Protein engineering of TPSs offers a crucial approach to expanding terpene diversity. However, significant potential remains untapped due to limited understanding of the structure-function relationships of TPSs. In this investigation, using a joint approach of molecular dynamics simulations-assisted engineering and site-directed mutagenesis, we manipulated the aromatic residue cluster (ARC) of a bifunctional terpene synthase (BFTPS), Pestalotiopsisfici nigtetraene synthase (PfNS). This led to the discovery of previously unreported catalytic functions yielding different cyclization patterns of sesterterpenes. Specifically, a quadruple variant (F89A/Y113F/W193L/T194W) completely altered PfNS’s function, converting it from producing the bicyclic sesterterpene nigtetraene to the tricyclic ophiobolin F. Additionally, analysis of catalytic profiles by double, triple, and quadruple variants demonstrated that the ARC functions as a switch, unprecedently redirecting the production of 5/11 bicyclic (Type B) sesterterpenes to 5/15 bicyclic (Type A) ones. Molecular dynamics simulations and theozyme calculations further elucidated that, in addition to cation-π interactions, C-H∙∙∙π interactions also play a key role in the cyclization patterns. This study offers a feasible strategy in protein engineering of TPSs for various industrial applications.

PMID:38934471 | DOI:10.1002/anie.202406246