Contribution of Signaling Partner Association to Strigolactone Receptor Selectivity

Jiming Chen, Tanner J. Dean, and Diwakar Shukla
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2024 128 (3), 698-705

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.3c06940


The parasitic plant witchweed, Striga hermonthica, results in agricultural losses of billions of dollars per year. It perceives its host via plant hormones called strigolactones, which act as germination stimulants for witchweed. Strigolactone signaling involves substrate binding to the strigolactone receptor, followed by substrate hydrolysis and a conformational change from an inactive, or open state, to an active, or closed state. In the active state, the receptor associates with a signaling partner, MAX2. Recently, it was shown that this MAX2 association process acts as a strong contributor to the uniquely high signaling activity observed in ShHTL7; however, it is unknown why ShHTL7 has enhanced MAX2 association affinity. Using an umbrella sampling molecular dynamics approach, we characterized the association processes of AtD14, ShHTL7, a mutant of ShHTL7, and ShHTL6 with MAX2 homologue OsD3. From these results, we show that ShHTL7 has an enhanced standard binding free energy of OsD3 compared to those of the other receptors. Additionally, our results suggest that the overall topology of the T2/T3 helix region is likely an important modulator of MAX2 binding. Thus, differences in MAX2 association, modulated by differences in the T2/T3 helix region, are a contributor to differences in signaling activity between different strigolactone receptors.


Term contributions to the overall association free energies, protein sequence alignment, restraints used, total sampling for each system, PMFs of all restraints, standard association free energy comparisons, and calculation of standard binding free energies.