Histone lysine methylation is emerging as an important mechanism to regulate chromatin structure and gene activity. To provide theoretical understanding of its reaction mechanism and product specificity, ab initio quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical free energy (QM/MM-FE) calculations and molecular dynamics simulations have been carried out to investigate the histone lysine methyltransferase SET7/9. It is found that the methyl-transfer reaction catalyzed by SET7/9 is a typical in-line SN2 nucleophilic substitution reaction with a transition state of 70% dissociative character. The calculated average free energy barrier at the MP2(6-31+G*) QM/MM level is 20.4 ± 1.1 kcal/mol, consistent with the activation barrier of 20.9 kcal/mol estimated from the experimental reaction rate. The barrier fluctuation has a strong correlation with the nucleophilic attack distance and angle in the reactant complex. The calculation results show that the product specificity of SET7/9 as a monomethyltransferase is achieved by disrupting the formation of near-attack conformations for the dimethylation reaction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry