A theoretical approach is employed to study the catalysis of the dihydroxyacetone phosphate (DHAP) to D-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (GAP) reaction by the enzyme triose phosphate isomerase (TIM). The conformational change in a loop involved in protecting the active site from solvent is examined by use of X-ray data and molecular dynamics simulations. A mixed quantum-mechanics and molecular mechanics potential is used to determine the energy surface along the reaction path. The calculations address the role of the enzyme in lowering the barrier to reaction and provide a decomposition into specific residue contributions. To obtain a clearer understanding of the electronic effects, the polarization of the substrate carbonyl group by the active site residues is examined and compared with FTIR measurements on the wild-type and mutant forms of the enzyme.
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