An understanding of the structure-dynamics relationship is essential for understanding how a protein works. Prior research has shown that the activity of a protein correlates with intradomain dynamics occurring at picosecond to millisecond timescales. However, the correlation between interdomain dynamics and the function of a protein is poorly understood. Here, we show that communications between the catalytic and hemopexin domains of matrix metalloprotease-1 (MMP1) on type 1 collagen fibrils correlate with its activity. Using single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer, we identified functionally relevant open conformations in which the two MMP1 domains are well separated, which were significantly absent for catalytically inactive point mutant (E219Q) of MMP1 and could be modulated by an inhibitor or an enhancer of activity. The observed relevance of open conformations resolves the debate about the roles of open and closed MMP1 structures in function. We fitted the histograms of single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer values to a sum of two Gaussians and the autocorrelations to an exponential and power law. We used a two-state Poisson process to describe the dynamics and calculate the kinetic rates from the fit parameters. All-atom and coarse-grained simulations reproduced some of the experimental features and revealed substrate-dependent MMP1 dynamics. Our results suggest that an interdomain separation facilitates opening up the catalytic pocket so that the collagen chains come closer to the MMP1 active site. Coordination of functional conformations at different parts of MMP1 occurs via allosteric communications that can take place via interactions mediated by collagen even if the linker between the domains is absent. Modeling dynamics as a Poisson process enables connecting the picosecond timescales of molecular dynamics simulations with the millisecond timescales of single-molecule measurements. Water-soluble MMP1 interacting with water-insoluble collagen fibrils poses challenges for biochemical studies that the single-molecule tracking can overcome for other insoluble substrates. Interdomain communications are likely important for multidomain proteins.
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