A link between sequence conservation and domain motion within the AAA+ family
The AAA+ family of proteins play fundamental roles in all three kingdoms of life. It is thought that they act as molecular chaperones in aiding the assembly or disassembly of proteins or protein complexes. Recent structural studies on a number of AAA+ family proteins have revealed that they share similar structural elements. These structures provide a possible link between nucleotide binding/hydrolysis and the conformational changes which are then amplified to generate mechanical forces for their specific functions. However, from these individual studies it is far from clear whether AAA+ proteins in general share properties in terms of nucleotide induced conformational changes. In this study, we analyze sequence conservation within the AAA+ family and identify two subfamilies, each with a distinct conserved linker sequence that may transfer conformational changes upon ATP binding/release to movements between subdomains and attached domains. To investigate the relation of these linker sequences to conformational changes, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on X-ray structures of AAA+ proteins from each subfamily have been performed. These simulations show differences in both the N-linker peptide, subdomain motion, and cooperativity between elements of quaternary structure. Extrapolation of subdomain movements from one MD simulation enables us to produce a structure in close agreement with cryo-EM experiments.