2016 Volume 13 Pages 77-84
A uridine-cytidine kinase (UCK) catalyzes the phosphorylation of uridine (Urd) and cytidine (Cyd) and plays a significant role in the pyrimidine-nucleotide salvage pathway. Unlike ordinary ones, UCK from Thermus thermophilus HB8 (ttCK) loses catalytic activity on Urd due to lack of a substrate binding ability and possesses an unusual amino acid, i.e. tyrosine 93 (Tyr93) at the binding site, whereas histidine (His) is located in the other UCKs. Mutagenesis experiments revealed that a replacement of Tyr93 by His or glutamine (Gln) recovered catalytic activity on Urd. However, the detailed molecular mechanism of the substrate specificity has remained unclear. In the present study, we performed molecular dynamics simulations on the wild-type ttCK, two mutant ttCKs, and a human UCK bound to Cyd and three protonation forms of Urd to elucidate their substrate specificity. We found three residues, Tyr88, Tyr/His/Gln93 and Arg152 in ttCKs, are important for recognizing the substrates. Arg152 contributes to induce a closed form of the binding site to retain the substrate, and the N3 atom of Urd needed to be deprotonated. Although Tyr88 tightly bound Cyd, it did not sufficiently bind Urd because of lack of the hydrogen bonding. His/Gln93 complemented the interaction of Tyr88 and raised the affinity of ttCK to Urd. The crucial distinction between Tyr and His or Gln was a role in the hydrogen-bonding network. Therefore, the ability to form both hydrogen-bonding donor and accepter is required to bind both Urd and Cyd.