Insight into the Role of Active Site Protonation States and Water Molecules in the Catalytic Inhibition of DPP4 by Vildagliptin

Jeisson D. Corredor, Camilo Febres-Molina, Gonzalo A. Jaña, Verónica A. Jiménez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Vildagliptin (VIL) is an antidiabetic drug that inhibits dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) through a covalent mechanism. The molecular bases for this inhibitory process have been addressed experimentally and computationally. Nevertheless, relevant issues remain unknown such as the roles of active site protonation states and conserved water molecules nearby the catalytic center. In this work, molecular dynamics simulations were applied to examine the structures of 12 noncovalent VIL-DPP4 complexes encompassing all possible protonation states of three noncatalytic residues (His126, Asp663, Asp709) that were inconclusively predicted by different computational tools. A catalytically competent complex structure was only achieved in the system with His126 in its ϵ-form and nonconventional neutral states for Asp663/Asp709. This complex suggested the involvement of one water molecule in the catalytic process of His740/Ser630 activation, which was confirmed by QM/MM simulations. Our findings support the suitability of a novel water-mediated mechanism in which His740/Ser630 activation occurs concertedly with the nucleophilic attack on VIL and the imidate protonation by Tyr547. Then, the restoration of His740/ Tyr547 protonation states occurs via a two-water hydrogen bonding network in a low-barrier process, thus describing the final step of the catalytic cycle for the first time. Additionally, two hydrolytic mechanisms were proposed based on the hydrogen bonding networks formed by water molecules and the catalytic residues along the inhibitory mechanism. These findings are valuable to unveil the molecular features of the covalent inhibition of DPP4 by VIL and support the future development of novel derivatives with improved structural or mechanistic profiles.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Information and Modeling
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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