What is the Catalytic Mechanism of Enzymatic Histone N-Methyl Arginine Demethylation and Can It be Influenced by an External Electric Field?

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Department of Chemistry


Arginine methylation is an important mechanism of epigenetic regulation. Some Fe(II) and 2-oxoglutarate dependent Jumonji-C (JmjC) Nϵ-methyl lysine histone demethylases also have N-methyl arginine demethylase activity. We report combined molecular dynamic (MD) and Quantum Mechanical/Molecular Mechanical (QM/MM) studies on the mechanism of N-methyl arginine demethylation by human KDM4E and compare the results with those reported for N-methyl lysine demethylation by KDM4A. At the KDM4E active site, Glu191, Asn291, and Ser197 form a conserved scaffold that restricts substrate dynamics; substrate binding is also mediated by an out of active site hydrogen-bond between the substrate Ser1 and Tyr178. The calculations imply that in either C−H or N−H potential bond cleaving pathways for hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) during N-methyl arginine demethylation, electron transfer occurs via a σ-channel; the transition state for the N−H pathway is ∼10 kcal/mol higher than for the C−H pathway due to the higher bond dissociation energy of the N−H bond. The results of applying external electric fields (EEFs) reveal EEFs with positive field strengths parallel to the Fe=O bond have a significant barrier-lowering effect on the C−H pathway, by contrast, such EEFs inhibit the N−H activation rate. The overall results imply that KDM4 catalyzed N-methyl arginine demethylation and N-methyl lysine demethylation occur via similar C−H abstraction and rebound mechanisms leading to methyl group hydroxylation, though there are differences in the interactions leading to productive binding of intermediates.

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Chemistry - A European Journal