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In silico screening of NRas protein oncogenic mutations : new structural and physico-chemical insights into the catalytic activity

Ruth Elena Tichauer 1
1 LAAS-M3 - Équipe Modélisation Multi-niveaux des Matériaux
LAAS - Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes
Abstract : Ras subfamily of small GTPase proteins holds a key position in cell proliferation pathways. Indeed, the transmission of cell growth signals is controlled by proteins belonging to it. In their GTP-bound conformation, these proteins interact and activate downstream effectors of cell replication and differentiation. The hydrolysis reaction that takes place in their center, terminates these interactions, thereby leading to the GDP-bound inactive state. Point mutations of key residues lead to a hydrolysis rate drop that keeps Ras in a GTP-bound active state. Now, high concentrations of active Ras have been associated to abnormal cell proliferation, emblematic of cancerous tissues dissemination. With this into consideration, the elucidation of Ras mechanisms for accelerating GTP cleavage appears as a major step in the development of cancer targeted therapies that would consist in restoring the hydrolysing capabilities within oncogenic Ras to a wild-type rate. In an attempt to gain insight into Ras catalysing properties at the atomic level, unconstrained Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations describing the G domain at different levels of theory (Molecular Mechanics (MM), Semi-empirical and Density Functional Theory (DFT)) were carried out for NRas member in its wild-type and Gln 61 mutated forms. These simulations were coupled to biomechanic characterisations of the complexes under inspection employing the static modes approach. The latter method, allows the identification of hot spots {\it i.e.} responsive residues of the biomolecule, that have a mechanical influence on the GTPase function of the protein. Hence, they could serve as suitable sites to host drug-like molecules containing specific chemical groups that would facilitate GTP hydrolysis. The obtained results show that water molecules positioning is crucial for efficiently catalysing the reaction that takes place in NRas center. Indeed, the precise positioning observed within the wild-type is lost within the mutants studied here. Furthermore, the active site structural modifications undergone upon Gln 61 substitutions, together with solvent distribution in it, impact directly GTP electronic density. The latter is accommodated to a GDP-like state within the wild-type protein only, as experimentally determined in previous investigations. Thus, oncogenic Gln 61 mutations impair this major catalysing effect. Among three engineered NRas proteins of the Q61R mutated form, proposed during this thesis, one is presented during the defence while the three are described in the manuscript. The chemical groups inserted at the identified site enable the recovery of water distribution as within the wild-type. To end, during the defence only, an alternative reaction pathway of the enzymatic reaction is proposed.
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Ruth Elena Tichauer. In silico screening of NRas protein oncogenic mutations : new structural and physico-chemical insights into the catalytic activity. Catalysis. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019TOU30028⟩. ⟨tel-02090107v2⟩

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