Effects of electrostatic interactions on global folding and local conformational dynamics of a multidomain Y-family DNA polymerase†
The Y-family DNA polymerases specialize in translesion DNA synthesis, which is essential for replicating damaged DNA. The Y-family polymerases, which are made up of four stable domains, exhibit extensive distributions of charged residues, and are responsible for the tight formation of the protein–DNA complex. However, it is still unclear how the electrostatic interactions influence the conformational dynamics of the polymerases. Here, we focus on the case of a prototype Y-family DNA polymerase, Dpo4. Using coarse-grained models including a salt-dependent electrostatic potential, we investigate the effects of the electrostatic interactions on the folding process of Dpo4. Our simulations show that strong electrostatic interactions result in a three-state folding of Dpo4, consistent with the experimental observations. This folding process exhibits low cooperativity led by low salt concentration, where the individual domains fold one by one through one single pathway. Since the refined folding order of domains in multidomain proteins can shrink the configurational space, we suggest that the electrostatic interactions facilitate the Dpo4 folding. In addition, we study the local conformational dynamics of Dpo4 in terms of fluctuation and frustration analyses. We show that the electrostatic interactions can exaggerate the local conformational properties, which are in favor of the large-scale conformational transition of Dpo4 during the functional DNA binding. Our results underline the importance of electrostatic interactions in the conformational dynamics of Dpo4 at both the global and local scale, providing useful guidance in protein engineering at the multidomain level.