Abstract
-secretase is a potential target for inhibitory drugs against Alzheimerí»s disease as it cleaves amyloid precursor protein (APP) to form insoluble
amyloid plaques and vascular deposits in the brain. -secretase is matured from its precursor protein, called -secretase zymogen, which, different
from most of other zymogens, is also partially active in cleaving APP. Hence, it is important to study on the mechanism of the zymogení»s activation
process. This study was to model the 3-D structure of the zymogen, followed by intensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to identify the
most probable 3-D model and to study the dynamic structural behavior of the zymogen for understanding the effects of pro-segment on the function
of the enzyme. The results revealed that the dropping in catalytic activity of the -secretase zymogen could be attributed to the occupation of the
entrance of the catalytic site of the zymogen by its pro-segment. On the other hand, the partial catalytic activity of the zymogen could be explained
by high fluctuation of the pro-segment in comparison with that of other zymogens, resulting in the occasionally exposure of the catalytic site for
access its substrate APP. Indeed, steered MD (SMD) simulation revealed a weak pulling force at quasi-equilibrium state for the pro-segment of the
zymogen leaving from the entrance, indicating that this swinging process could take place spontaneously. Furthermore, MM-PBSA calculation
revealed a small change of free energy of 10.56 kal/mol between the initial and final states of the process of pro-segment swung outside the binding
pocket of -secretase zymogen. These results not only account for the partial catalytic activity of -secretase zymogen, but also provide useful
clues for discovering new potent ligands, as new type of drug leads for curing Alzheimerí»s disease, to prevent the pro-segment of the zymogen
from leaving its catalytic site.