Molecular Modeling Investigation of the Interaction between Humicola insolens Cutinase and SDS Surfactant Suggests a Mechanism for Enzyme Inactivation

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One of the largest commercial applications of enzymes and surfactants is as main components in modern detergents. The high concentration of surfactant compounds usually present in detergents can, however, negatively affect the enzymatic activity. To remedy this drawback, it is of great importance to characterize the interaction between the enzyme and the surfactant molecules at an atomistic resolution. The protein enzyme cutinase from the thermophilic and saprophytic fungus called Humicola insolens (HiC) is a promising candidate for use in detergents thanks to its hydrolase activity targeting mostly biopolyesters (e.g., cutin). HiC is, however, inhibited by low concentrations of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), an ubiquitous surfactant. In this work, we investigate the interaction between HiC and SDS using molecular dynamics simulations. Simulations of HiC dissolved in different aqueous concentrations of SDS show the interaction between HiC and SDS monomers, as well as the formation and dynamics of SDS micelles on the surface of the enzyme. These results suggest a mechanism of cutinase inhibition by SDS, which involves the nucleation of aggregates of SDS molecules on hydrophobic patches on the cutinase surface. Notably, a primary binding site for monomeric SDS is identified near the active site of HiC constituting a possible nucleation point for micelles and leading to the blockage of the entrance to the enzymatic site. Detailed analysis of the simulations allow us to suggest a set of residues from the SDS binding site on HiC to probe as engineered mutations aimed at reducing SDS binding to HiC, thereby decreasing SDS inhibition of HiC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Pages (from-to)1977-1987
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

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