Over the past two decades, a significant amount of research has been conducted investigating cyanovirin-N (CVN), which has been shown to be an effective antiviral agent by inhibiting entry of HIV into the cell. The virucidal activity of CVN is attributed to the tight binding interactions with the glycosylated surfaces of the envelope protein gp120. In this study we investigated how the incorporation of various single point mutations in the glycan binding site would ultimately affect the overall binding affinity of the protein with the glycan. These mutations were predicted through computational methods. Using a BP-docking program and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, the free energy change upon the ligand binding to the each protein was determined. Experimental work and Isothermal Titration Calorimetry (ITC) was used to determine the Kd values for each protein mutant. A total of three different CVN mutants, T57S, S52T, and a double mutant T57S-S52T, or simply TS, were investigated on the background of P51G-m4-CVN. After conducting the experimental work, it was concluded that the overall fold and stability of the protein was conserved for each mutant. ITC data showed that T57S displayed the lowest dissociation constant valued in the micromolar range. In fact, T57S had a much lower Kd value in comparison to P51G-m4. In contrast, the double mutant TS, showed poor binding affinity for the glycan. When comparing experimental data with the data provided by MD simulation and BP-docking, the results were fairly correlated for all mutants, except for that of the double mutant, TS. According to information provided by MD simulation and BP docking, the binding of the sugar to TS is a very exergonic reaction, which is indicative of very negative free energy change (ΔG). However, the experimental Kd, which was very high, contradicts this data and is thus indicative of lower binding affinity for the glycan. This contradiction is currently being investigated.
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