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Title: Atomistic studies of the dynamics of P-glycoprotein and its ligands
Author: Ma, Jerome H. Y.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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A signifficant obstacle facing the healthcare industry is the phenomenon of multidrug resistance (MDR) in which a cell acquires simultaneous resistance to many unrelated drugs that it has never been exposed to. At the molecular level, MDR can be characterised by a reduction of intracellular drug levels due to their active efflux by multidrug transporters such as P-glycoprotein (Pgp). Pgp is able to efflux a phenomenally wide variety of chemically unrelated drugs and causal relationships have been established between its expression and the acquisition of MDR to numerous anticancer and central nervous system (CNS) drugs. There has thus been much effort to understand the molecular biology of Pgp and how it functions. However, many aspects of its functioning remain unclear. From a drug discovery viewpoint, we have yet to fully understand what features make some drugs susceptible to Pgp-mediated efflux (substrates) and what makes others able to inhibit Pgp function (inhibitors). From a mechanistic viewpoint, it is still uncertain what the exact nature of Pgp's binding site is, the role of ATP binding and hydrolysis in transport and how both of these interplay with ligand binding. The work presented in this thesis attempts to answer these questions from two perspectives. Firstly the mouse Pgp crystal structure [PDB 3G60] was used as a unique starting point for molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to characterise the dynamics and conformational exibility of Pgp, properties believed to be integral to its function. The simulations revealed Pgp to be a highly dynamic molecule at both its transmembrane (TM) and nucleotide binding domains (NBDs). The latter exhibited a conformational asymmetry that supports the Constant Contact model of ATPase activity. In the presence of the Pgp substrate, daunorubicin, the NBDs exhibited tighter asymmetric dimerisation leading to increased affinity for ATP. In contrast, the presence of the Pgp inhibitor, QZ59-RRR led to NBD conformational changes that reduced their affinity for ATP. Thus providing an appealing mechanism for how QZ59-RRR inhibits Pgp ATPase activity. MD simulation was also used to provide atomic-detail interpretations of multiple binding stoichiometries of drug and lipid molecules observed by collaborator-led mass spectrometry experiments. This also provided opportunity to validate the Pgp simulations against novel experimental data. The second strand of the thesis explored the membrane permeation dynamics of CNS therapeutics in order to identify differences in protonation states, conformations, orientations and membrane localisation that might distinguish those that are Pgp substrates and from those that are not. These properties were studied using complementary MD simulation and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. The simulations revealed a novel set of criteria that in uence the likelihoodof a drug to 'flip-flop' across a membrane, a behaviour that may make drugs more susceptible to Pgp efflux. These observations were broadly consistent with the NMR experiments. However, the NMR data also highlighted limitations in the simulation approaches used in this thesis and emphasised the need to also consider the kinetics of permeation in addition to its thermodynamics.
Supervisor: Biggin, Phil; Schnell, Jason Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biochemistry ; Computational chemistry ; Molecular dynamics ; Nuclear magnetic resonance ; Structural Biology ; P-glycoprotein ; Membrane protein ; Lipid bilayer ; Multidrug resistance