Computational Chemical Physics Group

Exploring Nature With Computer Simulations

Citrate Synthase a Pac-Enzyme


Citrate Synthase (CS) is an enzyme localized in the mitochondria of our cells where it plays an important role in the aerobic respiration cycle by transforming oxaloacetate molecules (on the right side of the picture) in citrate (on the top left side) with the assistance of the acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) molecule. As the pac-man in the famous computer game, this Pac-Enzyme diffuse along the space between the convolute cristae of mitochondria “chomping” at its encounter oxaloacetates that activate the enzyme to bind the CoA (ghosts in the playground). For each captured CoA, a new citrate molecule is then produced (score). This complex mechanism requires large conformation changes of parts of the protein (domains) whose molecular details are not yet clarified. Using molecular dynamics simulations on the ARCHER supercomputer, I am studying in collaboration with Dr. S. Hayward of the University of UEA (Norwich, UK) this enzyme to garner novel insights on structural, dynamics and thermodynamics of its functional mechanisms.
The following image was submitted to ARCHER Image Competition 2016
and it was selected for the September picture in the ARCHER calendar 2017.


Profile photo of Danilo Roccatano

Author: Danilo Roccatano

Danilo Roccatano received his PhD in chemistry in 1997 at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Italy. From 1996, he worked as a postdoc in the group of Prof. H.J.C. Berendsen at the Chemistry department of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In 2001, he moved back in his home country with a research associate fellowships, first at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and later at the University of L’Aquila. In 2003, he started a position of senior research associate position in Germany at the International University Bremen. In July 2005, he was promoted to Lecturer, and, later in 2009, he got the assistant professor position in Biochemical Engineering at the same university (then renamed as Jacobs University Bremen). Since then, he is leading a computational chemistry and biochemistry group, which attracted funding and students from different Germany national research agencies (DFG, BMBF, DAAD), EU, and biotech companies (EVONIK, BASF, BRAIN). In October 2015, he started a Senior Lecturer position in the School of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Lincoln.

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