Rifampin is the first-line antituberculosis drug, with Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA polymerase as the molecular target. Unfortunately, M. tuberculosis strains that are resistant to rifampin have been identified in clinical settings, which limits its therapeutic effects. In clinical isolates, S531L and D516V (in Escherichia coli) are two common mutated codons in the gene rpoB, corresponding to S456L and D441V in M. tuberculosis. However, the resistance mechanism at the molecular level is still elusive. In this work, Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics simulations were performed to uncover the resistance mechanism of rifampin due to S456L and D441V mutations at the atomic level. The binding free energy analysis revealed that the reduction in the ability of two mutants to bind rifampin is mainly due to a decrease in electrostatic interaction, specifically, a decrease in the energy contribution of the R454 residue. R454 acts as an anchor and forms stable hydrogen bond interaction with rifampin, allowing rifampin to be stably incorporated in the center of the binding pocket. However, the disappearance of the hydrogen bond between R454 and the mutated residues increases the flexibility of the side chain of R454. The conformation of R454 changes, and the hydrogen bond interaction between it and rifampin is disrupted. As result, the rifampin molecule moves to the outside of the pocket, and the binding affinity decreases. Overall, these findings can provide useful information for understanding the drug resistance mechanism of rifampin and also can give theoretical guidance for further design of novel inhibitors to overcome the drug resistance.
- Dynamic network analysis
- GaMD simulation
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA polymerase
- Rifampin resistance