Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society vol:10 issue:4 pages:798-808
Plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) is an inhibitor of plasminogen activators such as tissue-type plasminogen activator or urokinase-type plasminogen activator. For this molecule, different conformations are known. The inhibiting form that interacts with the proteinases is called the active form. The noninhibitory, noncleavable form is called the latent form. X-ray and modeling studies have revealed a large change in position of the reactive center loop (RCL), responsible for the interaction with the proteinases, that is inserted into a beta-sheet (s4A) in the latent form. The mechanism underlying this spontaneous conformational change (half-life = 2 h at 37 degrees C) is not known in detail. This investigation attempts to predict a transition path from the active to the latent structure at the atomic level, by using simulation techniques. Together with targeted molecular dynamics (TMD), a plausible assumption on a rigid body movement of the RCL was applied to define an initial guess for an intermediate. Different pathways were simulated, from the active to the intermediate, from the intermediate to the latent structure and vice versa under different conditions. Equilibrium simulations at different steps of the path also were performed. The results show that a continuous pathway from the active to the latent structure can be modeled. This study also shows that this approach may be applied in general to model large conformational changes in any kind of protein for which the initial and final three-dimensional structure is known.