Molecular dynamics perspective on the thermal stability of mandelate racemase

Mandelate racemase from Pseudomonas putida is a promising candidate for the dynamic kinetic resolution of α-hydroxy carboxylic acids. In the present study, the thermal stability of mandelate racemase was investigated through molecular dynamics simulations in the temperature range of 303–363 K, which can guide the design of mandelate racemase with higher stability. The basic features such as radius of gyration, surface accessibility, and secondary structure content suggested the instability of mandelate racemase at high temperatures. With increase in temperature, α-helix content reduced significantly, especially the α-helices exposed to the environment. At the simulation time scale considered, intra-protein hydrogen bonds, hydrogen bonds between protein and water decreased at 363 K, while the number of salt-bridges increased. The long-distance networks remarkably changed at 363 K. A considerable number of long-lived (percentage existence time higher than 90%) hydrogen bonds and Cα contacts were lost. Root mean square fluctuation analysis revealed regions with high fluctuation, which should be helpful in the reengineering of mandelate racemase for enhanced thermal stability.