Dynamical Basis of Allosteric Activation for the Plasmodium falciparum Protein Kinase G Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • The Plasmodium falciparum cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PfPKG) is required for the progression of the Plasmodium's life cycle and is therefore a promising malaria drug target. PfPKG includes four cGMP-binding domains (CBD-A to CBD-D). CBD-D plays a crucial role in PfPKG regulation as it is the primary determinant for the inhibition and cGMP-dependent activation of the catalytic domain. Hence, it is critical to understand how CBD-D is allosterically regulated by cGMP. Although the apo versus holo conformational changes of CBD-D have been reported, information on the intermediates of the activation pathway is currently lacking. Here, we employed molecular dynamics simulations to model four key states along the thermodynamic cycle for the cGMP-dependent activation of the PfPKG CBD-D domain. The simulations were compared to NMR data, and they revealed that the PfPKG CBD-D activation pathway samples a compact intermediate in which the N- and C-terminal helices approach the central β-barrel. In addition, by comparing the cGMP-bound active and inactive states, the essential binding interactions that differentiate these states were identified. The identification of structural and dynamical features unique to the cGMP-bound inactive state provides a promising basis to design PfPKG-selective allosteric inhibitors as a viable treatment for malaria.


  • Huang, Jinfeng
  • Byun, Jung Ah
  • VanSchouwen, Bryan
  • Henning, Philipp
  • Herberg, Friedrich W
  • Kim, Choel
  • Melacini, Giuseppe

publication date

  • June 24, 2021