Structural view on the role of the TRD loop in regulating DNMT3A activity: a molecular dynamics study

Hong Zhao, Jie Yu, Gaoqi Weng, Jiahui Yu, Ercheng Wang, Junbo Gao, Huanxiang Liu, Tingjun Hou, Zhe Wang, Yu Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) has been regarded as a potential epigenetic target for the development of cancer therapeutics. A number of DNMT3A inhibitors have been reported, but most of them do not have good potency, high selectivity and/or low cytotoxicity. It has been suggested that a non-conserved region around the target recognition domain (TRD) loop is implicated in the DNMT3A activity under the allosteric regulation of the ATRX-DNMT3-DNMT3L (ADD) domain, but the molecular mechanism of the regulation of the TRD loop on the DNMT3A activity needs to be elucidated. In this study, based on the reported crystal structures, the dynamics of the TRD loop in different multimerization with/without the bound guest molecule, namely the ADD domain or the DNA molecule, was investigated using conventional molecular dynamics (MD) and umbrella sampling simulations. The simulation results illustrate that the TRD loop exhibits relatively higher flexibility than the other components in the whole catalytic domain (CD), which could be well stabilized into different local minima through the binding with either the ADD domain or the DNA molecule by forming tight hydrogen-bond and salt-bridge networks involving distinct residues. Moreover, the movement of the TRD loop away from the catalytic loop upon activation could be triggered simply by the detachment of the ADD domain, but not necessarily induced by the ADD domain relocation on the CD. All these dynamic structural details could be a supplement to the previously reported crystal structure, which underlines the importance of the structural flexibility for the critical residues in the TRD loop, arousing more interest in the rational design of novel DNMT3A inhibitors targeting this region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15791-15801
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


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