mPGES-1 (microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1) is a newly recognized target for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. As the terminal enzyme of the prostaglandin production pathway, mPGES-1 inhibition may have a low risk of side effects. Inhibitors of mPGES-1 have attracted considerable attention as next-generation anti-inflammatory drugs. However, as mPGES-1 is a membrane protein, its enzymatic mechanism remains to be disclosed fully. We used MD (molecular dynamics) simulations, mutation analysis, hybrid experiments and co-IP (co-immunoprecipitation) to investigate the conformation transitions of mPGES-1 during catalysis. mPGES-1 forms a homotrimer with three substrate-binding sites (pockets). In the MD simulation, only one substrate molecule could bind to one of the pockets and form the active complex, suggesting that the mPGES-1 trimer has only one pocket active at any given time. This one-third-of-the-sites reactivity enzyme mechanism was verified further by hybridization experiments and MD simulations. The results of the present study revealed for the first time a novel one-third-of-the-sites reactivity enzyme mechanism for mPGES-1, and the unique substrate-binding pocket in our model constituted an active conformation that was suitable for further enzymatic mechanism study and structural-based drug design against mPGES-1.

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