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AlkB and its human homologue AlkBH2 are Fe(II)- and 2-oxoglutarate (2OG)-dependent oxygenases that repair alkylated DNA bases occurring as a consequence of reactions with mutagenic agents. We used molecular dynamics (MD) and combined quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) methods to investigate how structural dynamics influences the selectivity and mechanisms of the AlkB- and AlkBH2-catalyzed demethylation of 3-methylcytosine (m3C) in single (ssDNA) and double (dsDNA) stranded DNA. Dynamics studies reveal the importance of the flexibility in both the protein and DNA components in determining the preferences of AlkB for ssDNA and of AlkBH2 for dsDNA. Correlated motions, including of a hydrophobic β-hairpin, are involved in substrate binding in AlkBH2–dsDNA. The calculations reveal that 2OG rearrangement prior to binding of dioxygen to the active site Fe is preferred over a ferryl rearrangement to form a catalytically productive Fe(IV)═O intermediate. Hydrogen atom transfer proceeds via a σ-channel in AlkBH2–dsDNA and AlkB–dsDNA; in AlkB–ssDNA, there is a competition between σ- and π-channels, implying that the nature of the complexed DNA has potential to alter molecular orbital interactions during the substrate oxidation. Our results reveal the importance of the overall protein–DNA complex in determining selectivity and how the nature of the substrate impacts the mechanism.

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ACS Central Science

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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