Elucidating the molecular determinants in the process of gastrin C-terminal pentapeptide amide end activating cholecystokinin 2 receptor by Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics simulations
Gastrin plays important role in stimulating the initiation and development of many gastrointestinal diseases through interacting with the cholecystokinin 2 receptor (CCK2R). The smallest bioactive unit of gastrin activating CCK2R is the C-terminal tetrapeptide capped with an indispensable amide end. Understanding the mechanism of this smallest bioactive unit interacting with CCK2R on a molecular basis could provide significant insights for designing CCK2R antagonists, which can be used to treat gastrin-related diseases. To this end, we performed extensive Gaussian accelerated molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the interaction between gastrin C-terminal pentapeptide capped with/without amide end and CCK2R. The amide cap influences the binding modes of the pentapeptide with CCK2R by weakening the electrostatic attractions between the C-terminus of the pentapeptide and basic residues near the extracellular domain in CCK2R. The C-terminus with the amide cap penetrates into the transmembrane domain of CCK2R while floating at the extracellular domain without the amide cap. Different binding modes induced different conformational dynamics of CCK2R. Residue pairs in CCK2R had stronger correlated motions when binding with the amidated pentapeptide. Key residues and interactions important for CCK2R binding with the amidated pentagastrin were also identified. Our results provide molecular insights into the determinants of the bioactive unit of gastrin activating CCK2R, which would be of great help for the design of CCK2R antagonists.