Biophysical Journal 120
, 4798-4808 (2021)
ISSN: 0006-3495, SCIE
Hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions modulate protein escape at the ribosomal exit tunnel
Phuong Thuy Bui and Trinh Xuan Hoang
After translation, nascent proteins must escape the ribosomal exit tunnel to attain complete folding to their native states. This escape process also frees up the ribosome tunnel for a new translation job. In this study, we investigate the impacts of energetic interactions between the ribosomal exit tunnel and nascent proteins on the protein escape process by molecular dynamics simulations using partially coarse-grained models that incorporate hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions of the ribosome tunnel of Haloarcula marismortui with nascent proteins. We find that, in general, attractive interactions slow down the protein escape process, whereas repulsive interactions speed it up. For the small globular proteins considered, the median escape time correlates with both the number of hydrophobic residues, Nh, and the net charge, Q, of a nascent protein. A correlation coefficient exceeding 0.96 is found for the relation between the median escape time and a combined quantity of Nh + 5.9Q, suggesting that it is ∼6 times more efficient to modulate the escape time by changing the total charge than the number of hydrophobic residues. The estimated median escape times are found in the submillisecond-to-millisecond range, indicating that the escape does not delay the ribosome recycling. For various types of the tunnel model, with and without hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions, the escape time distribution always follows a simple diffusion model that describes the escape process as a downhill drift of a Brownian particle, suggesting that nascent proteins escape along barrier-less pathways at the ribosome tunnel.