Multiscale computational simulations to study proton transfer pathways in respiratory complex I

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Title: Multiscale computational simulations to study proton transfer pathways in respiratory complex I
Author: Djurabekova, Amina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Helsingfors universitet, Matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2022
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Materiaalitutkimuksen maisteriohjelma (Materials Research)
Master 's Programme in Materials Research
Magisterprogrammet i materialforskning
Specialisation: Laskennallinen materiaalifysiikka
Computational Materials Physics
Abstract: Energy is an essential input for any non-spontaneous mechanism. In biological organisms, the process of producing energy currency, adenosine triphosphate, is called cellular respiration. It is made of three smaller steps, out of which the last one is oxidative phosphorylation that is responsible for the largest production of adenosine triphosphate molecules in the whole process. Oxidative phosphorylation is performed by the electron transport chain made of five protein complexes, named respiratory complex I-V. Complex I is the first and largest protein complex in the electron transport chain, and it is the least understood. Its primary function is to transfer electrons from nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide to ubiquinone, which is coupled to the pumping of four protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane. Although the overall reaction of complex I is understood, the intricate detail of the mechanism is still largely unknown. There is significance in the details because there are numerous point mutations, which have been strongly correlated with neurogenerative diseases, such as Leigh’s syndrome, and aging. Therefore, a more thorough understanding of its mechanism can give insight into potential target drug development. Complex I is made of 14 highly conserved subunits that can be found in most species that use the electron transport chain. They create an L-shape, where seven subunits are embedded in the inner membrane, the membrane domain, and the others are floating in the mitochondrial matrix, the peripheral arm. In mitochondrial complex I, however, there are in addition around 30 accessory subunits. It has been previously thought that the main mechanism is conducted by the 14 subunits that are found in all species. However, in the past couple of years, it has been shown that accessory subunits can play an important role in the mechanism of mitochondrial complex I. The work presented in this thesis uses a multiscale computational approach to study the effect of three mutations, F89A, Y43A and L42A, from an accessory subunit LYRM6 on the function of complex I. Previous experiments demonstrated that the mutations decreased the overall activity of complex I by 76-86 %. The LYRM6 subunit is located at the pivot of the membrane and periplasmic domains. The results of this study show that the point mutations have a long-range effect on the conformations of three loops from three conserved subunits in this region. The shift in the loop dynamics causes a drop in water occupancy. The observed water pathway is tested for the capability of proton transfer. The findings are demonstrated with the help of molecular dynamics and quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations.
Subject: respiratory chain
molecular dynamics
quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics

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