skip to main content


Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Shukla, Diwakar"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Heterotrimeric GTP-binding protein alpha subunit (Gα) and its cognate regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) protein transduce signals in eukaryotes spanning protists, amoeba, animals, fungi, and plants. The core catalytic mechanisms of the GTPase activity of Gα and the interaction interface with RGS for the acceleration of GTP hydrolysis seem to be conserved across these groups; however, the RGS gene is under low selective pressure in plants, resulting in its frequent loss. Our current understanding of the structural basis of Gα:RGS regulation in plants has been shaped by Arabidopsis Gα, (AtGPA1), which has a cognate RGS protein. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this regulation beyond Arabidopsis, we obtained the x-ray crystal structures of Oryza sativa Gα, which has no RGS, and Selaginella moellendorffi (a lycophyte) Gα that has low sequence similarity with AtGPA1 but has an RGS. We show that the three-dimensional structure, protein-protein interaction with RGS, and the dynamic features of these Gα are similar to AtGPA1 and metazoan Gα. Molecular dynamic simulation of the Gα-RGS interaction identifies the contacts established by specific residues of the switch regions of GTP-bound Gα, crucial for this interaction, but finds no significant difference due to specific amino acid substitutions. Together, our data provide valuable insights into the regulatory mechanisms of plant G-proteins but do not support the hypothesis of adaptive co-evolution of Gα:RGS proteins in plants. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025
  2. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are fundamental computational tools for the study of proteins and their free energy landscapes. However, sampling protein conformational changes through MD simulations is challenging due to the relatively long time scales of these processes. Many enhanced sampling approaches have emerged to tackle this problem, including biased sampling and path-sampling methods. In this Perspective, we focus on adaptive sampling algorithms. These techniques differ from other approaches because the thermodynamic ensemble is preserved and the sampling is enhanced solely by restarting MD trajectories at particularly chosen seeds rather than introducing biasing forces. We begin our treatment with an overview of theoretically transparent methods, where we discuss principles and guidelines for adaptive sampling. Then, we present a brief summary of select methods that have been applied to realistic systems in the past. Finally, we discuss recent advances in adaptive sampling methodology powered by deep learning techniques, as well as their shortcomings. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 21, 2024
  3. Membrane transporters of the solute carrier 6 (SLC6) family mediate various physiological processes by facilitating the translocation of amino acids, neurotransmitters, and other metabolites. In the body, the activity of these transporters is tightly controlled through various post-translational modifications with implications on protein expression, stability, membrane trafficking, and dynamics. While N-linked glycosylation is a universal regulatory mechanism among eukaryotes, a consistent mechanism of how glycosylation affects the SLC6 transporter family remains elusive. It is generally believed that glycans influence transporter stability and membrane trafficking; however, the role of glycosylation on transporter dynamics remains disputable, with differing conclusions among individual transporters across the SLC6 family. In this study, we collected over 1 ms of aggregated all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulation data to systematically identify the impact of N-glycans on SLC6 transporter dynamics. We modeled four human SLC6 transporters, the serotonin, dopamine, glycine, and B0AT1 transporters, by first simulating all possible combinations of a glycan attached to each glycosylation site followed by investigating the effect of larger, oligo-N-linked glycans to each transporter. The simulations reveal that glycosylation does not significantly affect the transporter structure but alters the dynamics of the glycosylated extracellular loop and surrounding regions. The structural consequences of glycosylation on the loop dynamics are further emphasized with larger glycan molecules attached. However, no apparent differences in ligand stability or movement of the gating helices were observed, and as such, the simulations suggest that glycosylation does not have a profound effect on conformational dynamics associated with substrate transport. 
    more » « less
  4. Rapid computational exploration of the free energy landscape of biological molecules remains an active area of research due to the difficulty of sampling rare state transitions in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have exploited machine learning (ML) models to enhance and analyze MD simulations. Notably, unsupervised models that extract kinetic information from a set of parallel trajectories have been proposed including the variational approach for Markov processes (VAMP), VAMPNets, and time-lagged variational autoencoders (TVAE). In this work, we propose a combination of adaptive sampling with active learning of kinetic models to accelerate the discovery of the conformational landscape of biomolecules. In particular, we introduce and compare several techniques that combine kinetic models with two adaptive sampling regimes (least counts and multiagent reinforcement learning- based adaptive sampling) to enhance the exploration of conformational ensembles without introducing biasing forces. Moreover, inspired by the active learning approach of uncertainty-based sampling, we also present MaxEnt VAMPNet. This technique consists of restarting simulations from the microstates that maximize the Shannon entropy of a VAMPNet trained to perform the soft discretization of metastable states. By running simulations on two test systems, the WLALL pentapeptide and the villin headpiece subdomain, we empirically demonstrate that MaxEnt VAMPNet results in faster exploration of conformational landscapes compared with the baseline and other proposed methods. 
    more » « less
  5. Reconciliation of experimental and computational spectroscopic observables is critical for understanding protein dynamics.

     
    more » « less
  6. Posttranslational modifications (PTMs) are an integral component to how cells respond to perturbation. While experimental advances have enabled improved PTM identification capabilities, the same throughput for characterizing how structural changes caused by PTMs equate to altered physiological function has not been maintained. In this Perspective, we cover the history of computational modeling and molecular dynamics simulations which have characterized the structural implications of PTMs. We distinguish results from different molecular dynamics studies based upon the timescales simulated and analysis approaches used for PTM characterization. Lastly, we offer insights into how opportunities for modern research efforts on in silico PTM characterization may proceed given current state-of-the-art computing capabilities and methodological advancements. 
    more » « less
  7. Improving nitrogen use efficiency is critical to enhancing agricultural productivity and to mitigate environmental pollution. To overcome the fluctuations in soil nitrate concentration, plants have evolved an elaborate nitrate transporting mechanism that switches between high and low affinity. In plants, NRT1.1, a root-associated nitrate transporter, switches its affinity upon phosphorylation at Thr101. However, the molecular basis of this unique functional behavior known as dual-affinity switching remains elusive. Crystal structures of the NRT1.1 nitrate transporter have provided evidence for the two competing hypotheses to explain the origin of dual-affinity switching. It is not known how the interplay between transporter phosphorylation and dimerization regulates the affinity switching. To reconcile the different hypotheses, we have performed extensive simulations of nitrate transporter in conjunction with Markov state models to elucidate the molecular origin for a dual-affinity switching mechanism. Simulations of monomeric transporter reveal that phosphorylation stabilizes the outward-facing state and accelerates dynamical transitions for facilitating transport. On the other hand, phosphorylation of the transporter dimer decouples dynamic motions of dimer into independent monomers and thus facilitates substrate transport. Therefore, the phosphorylation-induced enhancement of substrate transport and dimer decoupling not only reconcile the competing experimental results but also provide an atomistic view of how nitrate transport is regulated in plants. 
    more » « less
  8. Cyanobacteria are responsible for up to 80% of aquatic carbon dioxide fixation and have evolved specialized carbon concentrating mechanism to increase photosynthetic yield. As such, cyanobacteria are attractive targets for synethic biology and engineering approaches to address the demands of global energy security, food production, and climate change for an increasing world’s population. The bicarbonate transporter BicA is a sodium-dependent, low-affinity, high-flux bicarbonate symporter expressed in the plasma membrane of cyanobacteria. Despite extensive biochemical characterization of BicA, including the resolution of the BicA crystal structure, the dynamic understanding of the bicarbonate mechanism remains elusive. To this end, we have collected over 1 ms of all-atom molecular dynamics simulation data of the BicA dimer to elucidate the structural rearrangements involved in the substrate transport process. We further characterized the energetics of the cooperativity between BicA promoters and investigated potential mutations that are shown to decrease the free energy barrier of conformational transitions. In all, our study illuminates a detailed mechanistic understanding of the conformational dynamics of bicarbonate transporters and provide atomistic insights to engineering these transporters for enhanced photosynthetic production. 
    more » « less
  9. Abstract Intimately connected to the rule of life, chirality remains a long-time fascination in biology, chemistry, physics and materials science. Chiral structures, e.g., nucleic acid and cholesteric phase developed from chiral molecules are common in nature and synthetic soft materials. While it was recently discovered that achiral but bent-core mesogens can also form chiral helices, the assembly of chiral microstructures from achiral polymers has rarely been explored. Here, we reveal chiral emergence from achiral conjugated polymers, in which hierarchical helical structures are developed through a multistep assembly pathway. Upon increasing concentration beyond a threshold volume fraction, dispersed polymer nanofibers form lyotropic liquid crystalline (LC) mesophases with complex, chiral morphologies. Combining imaging, X-ray and spectroscopy techniques with molecular simulations, we demonstrate that this structural evolution arises from torsional polymer molecules which induce multiscale helical assembly, progressing from nano- to micron scale helical structures as the solution concentration increases. This study unveils a previously unknown complex state of matter for conjugated polymers that can pave way to a field of chiral (opto)electronics. We anticipate that hierarchical chiral helical structures can profoundly impact how conjugated polymers interact with light, transport charges, and transduce signals from biomolecular interactions and even give rise to properties unimagined before. 
    more » « less