2020 Volume 17 Pages 51-58
Motor proteins are essential units of life and are well-designed nanomachines working under thermal fluctuations. These proteins control moving direction by consuming chemical energy or by dissipating electrochemical potentials. Chitinase A from bacterium Serratia marcescens (SmChiA) processively moves along crystalline chitin by hydrolysis of a single polymer chain to soluble chitobiose. Recently, we directly observed the stepping motions of SmChiA labeled with a gold nanoparticle by dark-field scattering imaging to investigate the moving mechanism. Time constants analysis revealed that SmChiA moves back and forth along the chain freely, because forward and backward states have a similar free energy level. The similar probabilities of forward-step events (83.5%=69.3%+14.2%) from distributions of step sizes and chain-hydrolysis (86.3%=(1/2.9)/(1/2.9+1/18.3)×100) calculated from the ratios of time constants of hydrolysis and the backward step indicated that SmChiA moves forward as a result of shortening of the chain by a chitobiose unit, which stabilizes the backward state. Furthermore, X-ray crystal structures of sliding intermediate and molecular dynamics simulations showed that SmChiA slides forward and backward under thermal fluctuation without large conformational changes of the protein. Our results demonstrate that SmChiA is a burnt-bridge Brownian ratchet motor.