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1.  Crystal Structures of E. coli Native MenH and Two Active Site Mutants 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61325.
Recent revision of the biosynthetic pathway for menaquinone has led to the discovery of a previously unrecognized enzyme 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase, also known as MenH. This enzyme has an α/β hydrolase fold with a catalytic triad comprising Ser86, His232, and Asp210. Mutational studies identified a number of conserved residues of importance to activity, and modeling further implicated the side chains of Tyr85 and Trp147 in formation of a non-standard oxyanion hole. We have solved the structure of E. coli MenH (EcMenH) at 2.75 Å resolution, together with the structures of the active site mutant proteins Tyr85Phe and Arg124Ala, both at 2.5 Å resolution. EcMenH has the predicted α/β hydrolase fold with its core α/β domain capped by a helical lid. The active site, a long groove beneath the cap, contains a number of conserved basic residues and is found to bind exogeneous anions, modeled as sulfate and chloride, in all three crystal structures. Docking studies with the MenH substrate and a transition state model indicate that the bound anions mark the binding sites for anionic groups on the substrate. The docking studies, and careful consideration of the active site geometry, further suggest that the oxyanion hole is of a conventional nature, involving peptide NH groups, rather than the proposed site involving Tyr85 and Trp147. This is in accord with conclusions from the structure of S. aureus MenH. Comparisons with the latter do, however, indicate differences in the periphery of the active site that could be of relevance to selective inhibition of MenH enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3630204  PMID: 23637813
2.  Specificity and Reactivity in Menaquinone Biosynthesis: The Structure of Escherichia coli MenD (2-Succinyl-5-Enolpyruvyl-6-Hydroxy-3-Cyclohexadiene-1-Carboxylate Synthase) 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;384(5):1353-1368.
The thiamine diphosphate (ThDP) and metal-ion-dependent enzyme 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase, or MenD, catalyze the Stetter-like conjugate addition of α-ketoglutarate with isochorismate to release 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate and carbon dioxide. This reaction represents the first committed step for biosynthesis of menaquinone, or vitamin K2, a key cofactor for electron transport in bacteria and a metabolite for posttranslational modification of proteins in mammals. The medium-resolution structure of MenD from Escherichia coli (EcMenD) in complex with its cofactor and Mn2+ has been determined in two related hexagonal crystal forms. The subunit displays the typical three-domain structure observed for ThDP-dependent enzymes in which two of the domains bind and force the cofactor into a configuration that supports formation of a reactive ylide. The structures reveal a stable dimer-of-dimers association in agreement with gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation studies and confirm the classification of MenD in the pyruvate oxidase family of ThDP-dependent enzymes. The active site, created by contributions from a pair of subunits, is highly basic with a pronounced hydrophobic patch. These features, formed by highly conserved amino acids, match well to the chemical properties of the substrates. A model of the covalent intermediate formed after reaction with the first substrate α-ketoglutarate and with the second substrate isochorismate positioned to accept nucleophilic attack has been prepared. This, in addition to structural and sequence comparisons with putative MenD orthologues, provides insight into the specificity and reactivity of MenD and allows a two-stage reaction mechanism to be proposed.
PMCID: PMC3656419  PMID: 18983854
crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; menaquinone biosynthesis; thiamine diphosphate cofactor
3.  Structure and Reactivity of Bacillus subtilis MenD Catalyzing the First Committed Step in Menaquinone Biosynthesis 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2010;401(2):253-264.
The first committed step in the classical biosynthetic route to menaquinone (vitamin K2) is a Stetter-like conjugate addition of α-ketoglutarate with isochorismate. This reaction is catalyzed by the thiamine diphosphate and metal-ion-dependent 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase (MenD). The medium-resolution (2.35 Å) crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis MenD with cofactor and Mn2+ has been determined. Based on structure–sequence comparisons and modeling, a two-stage mechanism that is primarily driven by the chemical properties of the cofactor is proposed. Hypotheses for the molecular determinants of substrate recognition were formulated. Five basic residues (Arg32, Arg106, Arg409, Arg428, and Lys299) are postulated to interact with carboxylate and hydroxyl groups to align substrates for catalysis in combination with a cluster of non-polar residues (Ile489, Phe490, and Leu493) on one side of the active site. The powerful combination of site-directed mutagenesis, where each of the eight residues is replaced by alanine, and steady-state kinetic measurements has been exploited to address these hypotheses. Arg409 plays a significant role in binding both substrates while Arg428 contributes mainly to binding of α-ketoglutarate. Arg32 and in particular Arg106 are critical for recognition of isochorismate. Mutagenesis of Phe490 and Ile489 has the most profound influence on catalytic efficiency, indicating that these two residues are important for binding of isochorismate and for stabilizing the cofactor position. These data allow for a detailed description of the structure–reactivity relationship that governs MenD function and refinement of the model for the catalytic intermediate that supports the Stetter-like conjugate addition.
PMCID: PMC2914249  PMID: 20600129
CoA, coenzyme A; PDB, Protein Data Bank; SAD, single-wavelength anomalous diffraction; SEPHCHC, 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate; SeMet, selenomethionine; ThDP, thiamine diphosphate; PEG, polyethylene glycol; crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; menaquinone biosynthesis; thiamine diphosphate cofactor
4.  A standard numbering scheme for thiamine diphosphate-dependent decarboxylases 
BMC Biochemistry  2012;13:24.
Standard numbering schemes for families of homologous proteins allow for the unambiguous identification of functionally and structurally relevant residues, to communicate results on mutations, and to systematically analyse sequence-function relationships in protein families. Standard numbering schemes have been successfully implemented for several protein families, including lactamases and antibodies, whereas a numbering scheme for the structural family of thiamine-diphosphate (ThDP) -dependent decarboxylases, a large subfamily of the class of ThDP-dependent enzymes encompassing pyruvate-, benzoylformate-, 2-oxo acid-, indolpyruvate- and phenylpyruvate decarboxylases, benzaldehyde lyase, acetohydroxyacid synthases and 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase (MenD) is still missing.
Despite a high structural similarity between the members of the ThDP-dependent decarboxylases, their sequences are diverse and make a pairwise sequence comparison of protein family members difficult.
We developed and validated a standard numbering scheme for the family of ThDP-dependent decarboxylases. A profile hidden Markov model (HMM) was created using a set of representative sequences from the family of ThDP-dependent decarboxylases. The pyruvate decarboxylase from S. cerevisiae (PDB: 2VK8) was chosen as a reference because it is a well characterized enzyme. The crystal structure with the PDB identifier 2VK8 encompasses the structure of the ScPDC mutant E477Q, the cofactors ThDP and Mg2+ as well as the substrate analogue (2S)-2-hydroxypropanoic acid. The absolute numbering of this reference sequence was transferred to all members of the ThDP-dependent decarboxylase protein family. Subsequently, the numbering scheme was integrated into the already established Thiamine-diphosphate dependent Enzyme Engineering Database (TEED) and was used to systematically analyze functionally and structurally relevant positions in the superfamily of ThDP-dependent decarboxylases.
The numbering scheme serves as a tool for the reliable sequence alignment of ThDP-dependent decarboxylases and the unambiguous identification and communication of corresponding positions. Thus, it is the basis for the systematic and automated analysis of sequence-encoded properties such as structural and functional relevance of amino acid positions, because the analysis of conserved positions, the identification of correlated mutations and the determination of subfamily specific amino acid distributions depend on reliable multisequence alignments and the unambiguous identification of the alignment columns. The method is reliable and robust and can easily be adapted to further protein families.
PMCID: PMC3534367  PMID: 23157214
5.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of (1R,6R)-2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate (SHCHC) synthase (MenD) from Escherichia coli  
Single crystals of the holoenzyme (1R,6R)-2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase with ThDP and Mn2+ as cofactors were obtained by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method with 35% ethylene glycol as precipitant. Apoenzyme crystals were obtained by sitting-drop vapour diffusion with 70% MPD.
(1R,6R)-2-Succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate (SHCHC) synthase, also called MenD, participates in the menaquinone (vitamin K2) biosynthetic pathway. The enzyme is a part of the superfamily of ThDP-dependent enzymes; however, it is the only enzyme known to catalyze a Stetter-like 1,4-addition of a ThDP adduct to the β-carbon of an unsaturated carboxylate. This is the first reported crystallization of the apoenzyme and holoenzyme forms of MenD. The apoenzyme crystals were obtained by sitting-drop vapour diffusion with 70% MPD. However, the crystals were too small to collect diffraction data and a search for better conditions was not successful. Single crystals of the holoenzyme with ThDP and Mn2+ as cofactors were obtained by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method with 35% ethylene glycol as precipitant. Diffraction data were collected on a cryocooled crystal to a resolution of 2.0 Å at BioCARS, Advanced Photon Source (APS), Chicago, IL, USA. The crystal was found to belong to space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 106.86, b = 143.06, c = 156.85 Å, α = β = γ = 90°.
PMCID: PMC1952307  PMID: 16511076
SHCHC synthase; MenD; ThDP-dependent enzymes
6.  Sequence and overexpression of the menD gene from Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1989;171(8):4349-4354.
The menD gene of Escherichia coli codes for the first enzyme of menaquinone biosynthesis, 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate (SHCHC) synthase. DNA sequence analysis of menD shows an open reading frame encoding a 52-kilodalton protein. Possible promoter and ribosome binding sites are present. Insertion of the menD gene into a tac promoter expression vector leads to nearly a 100-fold increase in the level of SHCHC synthase activity upon induction with isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactoside (IPTG). Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of [35S]methionine-labeled proteins shows a 61-kilodalton protein produced upon induction of the menD-containing expression vector. This is the first reported sequence analysis of a men gene and the first significant amplification of any of the menaquinone biosynthetic enzymes.
PMCID: PMC210211  PMID: 2666397
7.  Structural and Mutational Studies on Substrate Specificity and Catalysis of Salmonella typhimurium D-Cysteine Desulfhydrase 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36267.
Salmonella typhimurium DCyD (StDCyD) is a fold type II pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the degradation of D-Cys to H2S and pyruvate. It also efficiently degrades β-chloro-D-alanine (βCDA). D-Ser is a poor substrate while the enzyme is inactive with respect to L-Ser and 1-amino-1-carboxy cyclopropane (ACC). Here, we report the X-ray crystal structures of StDCyD and of crystals obtained in the presence of D-Cys, βCDA, ACC, D-Ser, L-Ser, D-cycloserine (DCS) and L-cycloserine (LCS) at resolutions ranging from 1.7 to 2.6 Å. The polypeptide fold of StDCyD consisting of a small domain (residues 48–161) and a large domain (residues 1–47 and 162–328) resembles other fold type II PLP dependent enzymes. The structures obtained in the presence of D-Cys and βCDA show the product, pyruvate, bound at a site 4.0–6.0 Å away from the active site. ACC forms an external aldimine complex while D- and L-Ser bind non-covalently suggesting that the reaction with these ligands is arrested at Cα proton abstraction and transimination steps, respectively. In the active site of StDCyD cocrystallized with DCS or LCS, electron density for a pyridoxamine phosphate (PMP) was observed. Crystals soaked in cocktail containing these ligands show density for PLP-cycloserine. Spectroscopic observations also suggest formation of PMP by the hydrolysis of cycloserines. Mutational studies suggest that Ser78 and Gln77 are key determinants of enzyme specificity and the phenolate of Tyr287 is responsible for Cα proton abstraction from D-Cys. Based on these studies, a probable mechanism for the degradation of D-Cys by StDCyD is proposed.
PMCID: PMC3344862  PMID: 22574144
8.  Structural and Biochemical Studies of Human 4-hydroxy-2-oxoglutarate Aldolase: Implications for Hydroxyproline Metabolism in Primary Hyperoxaluria 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26021.
4-hydroxy-2-oxoglutarate (HOG) aldolase is a unique enzyme in the hydroxyproline degradation pathway catalyzing the cleavage of HOG to pyruvate and glyoxylate. Mutations in this enzyme are believed to be associated with the excessive production of oxalate in primary hyperoxaluria type 3 (PH3), although no experimental data is available to support this hypothesis. Moreover, the identity, oligomeric state, enzymatic activity, and crystal structure of human HOGA have not been experimentally determined.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study human HOGA (hHOGA) was identified by mass spectrometry of the mitochondrial enzyme purified from bovine kidney. hHOGA performs a retro-aldol cleavage reaction reminiscent of the trimeric 2-keto-3-deoxy-6-phosphogluconate aldolases. Sequence comparisons, however, show that HOGA is related to the tetrameric, bacterial dihydrodipicolinate synthases, but the reaction direction is reversed. The 1.97 Å resolution crystal structure of hHOGA bound to pyruvate was determined and enabled the modeling of the HOG-Schiff base intermediate and the identification of active site residues. Kinetic analyses of site-directed mutants support the importance of Lys196 as the nucleophile, Tyr168 and Ser77 as components of a proton relay, and Asn78 and Ser198 as unique residues that facilitate substrate binding.
The biochemical and structural data presented support that hHOGA utilizes a type I aldolase reaction mechanism, but employs novel residue interactions for substrate binding. A mapping of the PH3 mutations identifies potential rearrangements in either the active site or the tetrameric assembly that would likely cause a loss in activity. Altogether, these data establish a foundation to assess mutant forms of hHOGA and how their activity could be pharmacologically restored.
PMCID: PMC3188589  PMID: 21998747
9.  Mechanism of the Intramolecular Claisen Condensation Reaction Catalyzed by MenB, a Crotonase Superfamily Member† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(44):9532-9544.
MenB, the 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase from the bacterial menaquinone biosynthesis pathway, catalyzes an intramolecular Claisen condensation (Dieckmann reaction) in which the electrophile is an unactivated carboxylic acid. Mechanistic studies on this crotonase family member have been hindered by partial active site disorder in existing MenB X-ray structures. In the current work the 2.0 Å structure of O-succinylbenzoyl-aminoCoA (OSB-NCoA) bound to the MenB from Escherichia coli provides important insight into the catalytic mechanism by revealing the position of all active site residues. This has been accomplished by the use of a stable analogue of the O-succinylbenzoyl-CoA (OSB-CoA) substrate in which the CoA thiol has been replaced by an amine. The resulting OSB-NCoA is stable and the X-ray structure of this molecule bound to MenB reveals the structure of the enzyme-substrate complex poised for carbon-carbon bond formation. The structural data support a mechanism in which two conserved active site Tyr residues, Y97 and Y258, participate directly in the intramolecular transfer of the substrate α-proton to the benzylic carboxylate of the substrate, leading to protonation of the electrophile and formation of the required carbanion. Y97 and Y258 are also ideally positioned to function as the second oxyanion hole required for stabilization of the tetrahedral intermediate formed during carbon-carbon bond formation. In contrast, D163, which is structurally homologous to the acid-base catalyst E144 in crotonase, is not directly involved in carbanion formation and may instead play a structural role by stabilizing the loop that carries Y97. When similar studies were performed on the MenB from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a twisted hexamer was unexpectedly observed, demonstrating the flexibility of the interfacial loops that are involved in the generation of the novel tertiary and quaternary structures found in the crotonase superfamily. This work reinforces the utility of using a stable substrate analogue as a mechanistic probe in which only one atom has been altered leading to a decrease in α-proton acidity.
PMCID: PMC4119599  PMID: 21830810
10.  Stable Analogues of OSB-AMP: Potent Inhibitors of MenE, the o-Succinylbenzoate-CoA Synthetase from Bacterial Menaquinone Biosynthesis 
MenE, the o-succinylbenzoate (OSB)-CoA synthetase from bacterial menaquinone biosynthesis, is a promising new antibacterial target. Sulfonyladenosine analogues of the cognate reaction intermediate, OSB-AMP, have been developed as inhibitors of the MenE enzymes from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (mtMenE), Staphylococcus aureus (saMenE) and Escherichia coli (ecMenE). Both a free carboxylate and ketone moiety on the OSB side chain are required for potent inhibitory activity. OSB-AMS (4) is a competitive inhibitor of mtMenE with respect to ATP (Ki = 5.4 ± 0.1 nM) and a non-competitive inhibitor with respect to OSB (Ki = 11.2 ± 0.9 nM). These data are consistent with a bi uni uni bi ping-pong kinetic mechanism for these enzymes. In addition, OSB-AMS inhibits saMenE with Kiapp of 22 ± 8 nM and ecMenE with KiOSB=128±5nM. Putative active site residues, Arg-222, which may interact with the OSB aromatic carboxylate, and Ser-302, which may bind the OSB ketone oxygen, have been identified through computational docking of OSB-AMP with the unliganded crystal structure of saMenE. A pH-dependent interconversion of the free keto acid and lactol forms of the inhibitors is also described, along with implications for inhibitor design.
PMCID: PMC3436903  PMID: 22109989
adenylation; inhibitors; docking; drug design; antibiotics
11.  Biosynthesis of o-succinylbenzoic acid in Bacillus subtilis: identification of menD mutants and evidence against the involvement of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(9):2648-2653.
The biosynthesis of o-succinylbenzoic acid (OSB), the first aromatic intermediate involved in the biosynthesis of menaquinone (vitamin K2) is demonstrated for the first time in the gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Cell extracts were found to contain isochorismate synthase, 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylic acid (SHCHC) synthase-alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase and o-succinylbenzoic acid synthase activities. An odhA mutant which lacks the decarboxylase component (usually termed E1, EC, oxoglutarate dehydrogenase [lipoamide]) of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex was found to synthesize SHCHC and form succinic semialdehyde-thiamine pyrophosphate. Thus, the presence of an alternate alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase activity specifically involved in menaquinone biosynthesis is established for B. subtilis. A number of OSB-requiring mutants were also assayed for the presence of the various enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of OSB. All mutants were found to lack only the SHCHC synthase activity.
PMCID: PMC205404  PMID: 8169214
12.  Menaquinone (vitamin K2) biosynthesis: evidence that the Escherichia coli menD gene encodes both 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylic acid synthase and alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase activities. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1992;174(24):8111-8118.
The formation of 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylic acid (SHCHC), the first identified intermediate in the menaquinone biosynthetic pathway, requires two reactions. They are the decarboxylation of alpha-ketoglutarate by an alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase, which results in the formation of succinic semialdehyde-thiamine PPi (TPP) anion, and the addition of the succinic semialdehyde-TPP anion to isochorismate carried out by the enzyme SHCHC synthase. Evidence is provided to support the conclusion that both enzymatic activities are encoded by an extended menD gene which is capable of generating a bifunctional 69-kDa protein. Consistent with the requirement for TPP in the decarboxylation of alpha-ketoglutarate, the translated amino acid sequence contains the characteristic TPP-binding motif present in all well-characterized TPP-requiring enzymes.
PMCID: PMC207550  PMID: 1459959
13.  Crystallographic and molecular dynamics simulation analysis of Escherichia coli dihydroneopterin aldolase 
Cell & Bioscience  2014;4:52.
Dihydroneopterin aldolase (DHNA) catalyzes the conversion of 7,8-dihydroneopterin to 6-hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin and also the epimerization of DHNP to 7,8-dihydromonapterin. Previously, we determined the crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus DHNA (SaDHNA) in complex with the substrate analogue neopterin (NP). We also showed that Escherichia coli DHNA (EcDHNA) and SaDHNA have significantly different binding and catalytic properties by biochemical analysis. On the basis of these structural and functional data, we proposed a catalytic mechanism involving two proton wires.
To understand the structural basis for the biochemical differences and further investigate the catalytic mechanism of DHNA, we have determined the structure of EcDHNA complexed with NP at 1.07-Å resolution [PDB:2O90], built an atomic model of EcDHNA complexed with the substrate DHNP, and performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulation analysis of the substrate complex. EcDHNA has the same fold as SaDHNA and also forms an octamer that consists of two tetramers, but the packing of one tetramer with the other is significantly different between the two enzymes. Furthermore, the structures reveal significant differences in the vicinity of the active site, particularly in the loop that connects strands β3 and β4, mainly due to the substitution of nearby residues. The building of an atomic model of the complex of EcDHNA and the substrate DHNP and the MD simulation of the complex show that some of the hydrogen bonds between the substrate and the enzyme are persistent, whereas others are transient. The substrate binding model and MD simulation provide the molecular basis for the biochemical behaviors of the enzyme, including noncooperative substrate binding, indiscrimination of a pair of epimers as the substrates, proton wire switching during catalysis, and formation of epimerization product.
The EcDHNA and SaDHNA structures, each in complex with NP, reveal the basis for the biochemical differences between EcDHNA and SaDHNA. The atomic substrate binding model and MD simulation offer insights into substrate binding and catalysis by DHNA. The EcDHNA structure also affords an opportunity to develop antimicrobials specific for Gram-negative bacteria, as DHNAs from Gram-negative bacteria are highly homologous and E. coli is a representative of this class of bacteria.
PMCID: PMC4176595  PMID: 25264482
Dihydroneopterin aldolase; DHNA; Structure; Dynamics; Catalysis
14.  Structural and Biochemical Studies Reveal Differences in the Catalytic Mechanisms of Mammalian and Drosophila melanogaster Thioredoxin Reductases† 
Biochemistry  2007;46(16):4694-4705.
Thioredoxin reductase (TR) from Drosophila melanogaster(DmTR) is a member of the glutathione reductase (GR) family of pyridine nucleotide disulfide oxidoreductases and catalyzes the reduction of the redox-active disulfide bond of thioredoxin. DmTR is notable for having high catalytic activity without the presence of a selenocysteine (Sec) residue (which is essential for the mammalian thioredoxin reductases). We report here the X-ray crystal structure of DmTR at 2.4 Å resolution (Rwork = 19.8 %, Rfree = 24.7%) in which the enzyme was truncated to remove the C-terminal tripeptide sequence Cys-Cys-Ser. We also demonstrate that tetrapeptides equivalent to the oxidized C-terminal active sites of both mouse mitochondrial TR (mTR3) and DmTR, are substrates for the truncated forms of both enzymes. This truncated enzyme/peptide substrate system examines the kinetics of the ring opening step that occurs during the enzymatic cycle of TR. The ring opening step is 300-500 fold slower when Sec is replaced with Cys in mTR3 when using this system. Conversely, when Cys is replaced with Sec in DmTR, the rate of ring opening is only moderately increased (5-36 fold). Structures of these tetrapeptides were oriented in the active site of both enzymes using oxidized glutathione bound to GR as a template. DmTR has a more open subunit interface than the mouse enzyme and accommodates peptide Ser-Cys-Cys-Ser(ox) in a cis conformation that allows for protonation of the leaving group Cys by His464′, which helps to explain why this TR can function without the need for Sec. In contrast, mTR3 shows a narrower subunit interface. One possible result of this narrower interface is that the mammalian redox-active tetrapeptide Gly-Cys-Sec-Gly may adopt a trans conformation for a better fit. This places the Sec residue farther away from the protonating histidine residue, but the lower pKa of Sec in comparison to Cys eliminates the need for Sec to be protonated.
PMCID: PMC3687216  PMID: 17385893
15.  The Three-Dimensional Structural Basis of Type II Hyperprolinemia 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2012;420(3):176-189.
Type II hyperprolinemia is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by a deficiency in Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase (P5CDH, aka ALDH4A1), the aldehyde dehydrogenase that catalyzes the oxidation of glutamate semialdehyde to glutamate. Here we report the first structure of human P5CDH and investigate the impact of the hyperprolinemia-associated mutation of Ser352 to Leu on the structure and catalytic properties of the enzyme. The 2.5 Å resolution crystal structure of human P5CDH was determined using experimental phasing. Structures of the mutant enzymes S352A (2.4 Å) and S352L (2.85 Å) were determined to elucidate the structural consequences of altering Ser352. Structures of the 93%-identical mouse P5CDH complexed with sulfate ion (1.3 Å resolution), glutamate (1.5 Å), and NAD+ (1.5 Å) were determined to obtain high resolution views of the active site. Together, the structures show that Ser352 occupies a hydrophilic pocket and is connected via water-mediated hydrogen bonds to catalytic Cys348. Mutation of Ser352 to Leu is shown to abolish catalytic activity and eliminate NAD+ binding. Analysis of the S352A mutant shows that these functional defects are caused by the introduction of the nonpolar Leu352 side chain rather than the removal of the Ser352 hydroxyl. The S352L structure shows that the mutation induces a dramatic 8-Å rearrangement of the catalytic loop. Because of this conformational change, Ser349 is not positioned to interact with the aldehyde substrate, conserved Glu447 is no longer poised to bind NAD+, and Cys348 faces the wrong direction for nucleophilic attack. These structural alterations render the enzyme inactive.
PMCID: PMC3372638  PMID: 22516612
X-ray crystallography; aldehyde dehydrogenase; ALDH4A1; proline catabolism; isothermal titration calorimetry; metabolic disorders
16.  Structure of Staphylococcus aureus 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) in complex with acetoacetyl-CoA 
The structure of S. aureus MenB, an enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway to vitamin K2, has been determined and compared with the enzyme derived from another important pathogen, M. tuberculosis.
Vitamin K2, or menaquinone, is an essential cofactor for many organisms and the enzymes involved in its biosynthesis are potential antimicrobial drug targets. One of these enzymes, 1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoyl-CoA synthase (MenB) from the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, has been obtained in recombinant form and its quaternary structure has been analyzed in solution. Cubic crystals of the enzyme allowed a low-resolution structure (2.9 Å) to be determined. The asymmetric unit consists of two subunits and a crystallographic threefold axis of symmetry generates a hexamer consistent with size-exclusion chromatography. Analytical ultracentrifugation indicates the presence of six states in solution, monomeric through to hexameric, with the dimer noted as being particularly stable. MenB displays the crotonase-family fold with distinct N- and C-terminal domains and a flexible segment of structure around the active site. The smaller C-terminal domain plays an important role in oligomerization and also in substrate binding. The presence of acetoacetyl-CoA in one of the two active sites present in the asymmetric unit indicates how part of the substrate binds and facilitates comparisons with the structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis MenB.
PMCID: PMC2339762  PMID: 18007038
crotonase; synthase; vitamin biosynthesis; menaquinone; MenB
17.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa 4-Amino-4-Deoxychorismate Lyase: Spatial Conservation of an Active Site Tyrosine and Classification of Two Types of Enzyme 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24158.
4-Amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase (PabC) catalyzes the formation of 4-aminobenzoate, and release of pyruvate, during folate biosynthesis. This is an essential activity for the growth of Gram-negative bacteria, including important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A high-resolution (1.75 Å) crystal structure of PabC from P. aeruginosa has been determined, and sequence-structure comparisons with orthologous structures are reported. Residues around the pyridoxal 5′-phosphate cofactor are highly conserved adding support to aspects of a mechanism generic for enzymes carrying that cofactor. However, we suggest that PabC can be classified into two groups depending upon whether an active site and structurally conserved tyrosine is provided from the polypeptide that mainly forms an active site or from the partner subunit in the dimeric assembly. We considered that the conserved tyrosine might indicate a direct role in catalysis: that of providing a proton to reduce the olefin moiety of substrate as pyruvate is released. A threonine had previously been suggested to fulfill such a role prior to our observation of the structurally conserved tyrosine. We have been unable to elucidate an experimentally determined structure of PabC in complex with ligands to inform on mechanism and substrate specificity. Therefore we constructed a computational model of the catalytic intermediate docked into the enzyme active site. The model suggests that the conserved tyrosine helps to create a hydrophobic wall on one side of the active site that provides important interactions to bind the catalytic intermediate. However, this residue does not appear to participate in interactions with the C atom that undergoes an sp2 to sp3 conversion as pyruvate is produced. The model and our comparisons rather support the hypothesis that an active site threonine hydroxyl contributes a proton used in the reduction of the substrate methylene to pyruvate methyl in the final stage of the mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3174152  PMID: 21935381
18.  The Catalytic Aspartate Is Protonated in the Michaelis Complex Formed between Trypsin and an in Vitro Evolved Substrate-like Inhibitor 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;286(5):3587-3596.
The mechanism of serine proteases prominently illustrates how charged amino acid residues and proton transfer events facilitate enzyme catalysis. Here we present an ultrahigh resolution (0.93 Å) x-ray structure of a complex formed between trypsin and a canonical inhibitor acting through a substrate-like mechanism. The electron density indicates the protonation state of all catalytic residues where the catalytic histidine is, as expected, in its neutral state prior to the acylation step by the catalytic serine. The carboxyl group of the catalytic aspartate displays an asymmetric electron density so that the Oδ2–Cγ bond appears to be a double bond, with Oδ2 involved in a hydrogen bond to His-57 and Ser-214. Only when Asp-102 is protonated on Oδ1 atom could a density functional theory simulation reproduce the observed electron density. The presence of a putative hydrogen atom is also confirmed by a residual mFobs − DFcalc density above 2.5 σ next to Oδ1. As a possible functional role for the neutral aspartate in the active site, we propose that in the substrate-bound form, the neutral aspartate residue helps to keep the pKa of the histidine sufficiently low, in the active neutral form. When the histidine receives a proton during the catalytic cycle, the aspartate becomes simultaneously negatively charged, providing additional stabilization for the protonated histidine and indirectly to the tetrahedral intermediate. This novel proposal unifies the seemingly conflicting experimental observations, which were previously seen as either supporting the charge relay mechanism or the neutral pKa histidine theory.
PMCID: PMC3030363  PMID: 21097875
Enzyme Catalysis; Enzyme Kinetics; Enzyme Mechanisms; Enzyme Structure; Enzymes; Protease; Protease Inhibitor; Proteolytic Enzymes; Serine Protease; X-ray Crystallography
19.  Crystal Structure of a Novel N-Substituted L-Amino Acid Dioxygenase from Burkholderia ambifaria AMMD 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63996.
A novel dioxygenase from Burkholderia ambifaria AMMD (SadA) stereoselectively catalyzes the C3-hydroxylation of N-substituted branched-chain or aromatic L-amino acids, especially N-succinyl-L-leucine, coupled with the conversion of α-ketoglutarate to succinate and CO2. To elucidate the structural basis of the substrate specificity and stereoselective hydroxylation, we determined the crystal structures of the SadA.Zn(II) and SadA.Zn(II).α-KG complexes at 1.77 Å and 1.98 Å resolutions, respectively. SadA adopted a double-stranded β-helix fold at the core of the structure. In addition, an HXD/EXnH motif in the active site coordinated a Zn(II) as a substitute for Fe(II). The α-KG molecule also coordinated Zn(II) in a bidentate manner via its 1-carboxylate and 2-oxo groups. Based on the SadA.Zn(II).α-KG structure and mutation analyses, we constructed substrate-binding models with N-succinyl-L-leucine and N-succinyl-L-phenylalanine, which provided new insight into the substrate specificity. The results will be useful for the rational design of SadA variants aimed at the recognition of various N-succinyl L-amino acids.
PMCID: PMC3665795  PMID: 23724013
20.  Menaquinone (vitamin K2) biosynthesis: cloning, nucleotide sequence, and expression of the menC gene from Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(15):4917-4921.
The benzenoid aromatic compound o-succinylbenzoic acid is formed by dehydration of the prearomatic compound 2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylic acid by the enzyme o-succinylbenzoate synthase, encoded by the menC gene. A 1.3-kb PstI-PvuII fragment was found to complement the menC mutation. The complete nucleotide sequence of this fragment revealed a single open reading frame of 954 bp capable of encoding a 35-kDa protein. A consensus sequence for a ribosomal binding site but no promoter consensus sequences were found. However, the first base of the initiating codon of this open reading frame overlaps the upstream menB gene termination codon, suggesting an operon-like organization for these genes. Consistent with this suggestion, the menB promoter can initiate transcription of the menC gene.
PMCID: PMC204947  PMID: 8335646
21.  Mechanistic and Structural Analyses of the Roles of Arg409 and Asp402 in the Reaction of the Flavoprotein Nitroalkane Oxidase†‡ 
Biochemistry  2007;46(48):13800-13808.
The flavoprotein nitroalkane oxidase (NAO) catalyzes the oxidation of primary and secondary nitroalkanes to the corresponding aldehydes and ketones. The enzyme is a homolog of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase. Asp402 in NAO has been proposed to be the active site base responsible for removing the substrate proton in the first catalytic step; structurally it corresponds to the glutamate which acts as the base in medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase. In the active site of NAO, the carboxylate of Asp402 forms an ionic interaction with the side chain of Arg409. The R409K enzyme has now been characterized kinetically and structurally. The mutation results in a decrease in the rate constant for proton abstraction of 100-fold. Analysis of the three-dimensional structure of the R409K enzyme, determined by X-ray crystallography to a resolution of 2.65 Å, shows that the critical structural change is an increase in the distance between the carboxylate of Asp402 and the positively-charged nitrogen in the side chain of the residue at position 409. The D402E mutation results in a smaller decrease in the rate constant for proton abstraction of 18-fold. The structure of the D402E enzyme, determined at 2.4 Å resolution, shows that there is a smaller increase in the distance between Arg409 and the carboxylate at position 402, and the interaction of this residue with Ser276 is perturbed. These results establish the critical importance of the interaction between Asp402 and Arg409 for proton abstraction by nitroalkane oxidase.
PMCID: PMC2526231  PMID: 17994768
22.  Structure of isochorismate synthase in complex with magnesium 
The structure of the menaquinone-specific isochorismate synthase (MenF) from Escherichia coli has been refined at a resolution of 2.0 Å in complex with magnesium. The magnesium-bound structure has a well defined and organized active site which better represents the active conformation of the enzyme than the currently available structure.
The electron carrier menaquinone is one of many important bacterial metabolites that are derived from the key intermediate chorismic acid. MenF, the first enzyme in the menaquinone pathway, catalyzes the isomerization of chorismate to isochorismate. Here, an improved structure of MenF in a new crystal form is presented. The structure, solved at 2.0 Å resolution in complex with magnesium, reveals a well defined closed active site. Existing evidence suggests that the mechanism of the reaction catalyzed by MenF involves nucleophilic attack of a water molecule on the chorismate ring. The structure reveals a well defined water molecule located in an appropriate position for activation by Lys190 and attack on the substrate.
PMCID: PMC2467529  PMID: 18453696
chorismate; isochorismate; menaquinone
23.  Evidence in Support of Lysine 77 and Histidine 96 as Acid-base Catalytic Residues in Saccharopine Dehydrogenase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Biochemistry  2012;51(4):857-866.
Saccharopine dehydrogenase (SDH) catalyzes the final reaction in the α–aminoadipate pathway, the conversion of l-saccharopine to l-lysine (Lys) and α-ketoglutarate (α-Kg) using NAD+ as an oxidant. The enzyme utilizes a general acid-base mechanism to carry out its reaction with a base proposed to accept a proton from the secondary amine of saccharopine in the oxidation step and group proposed to activate water to hydrolyze the resulting imine. Crystal structures of an open apo-form and a closed form of the enzyme with saccharopine and NADH bound have been solved at 2.0 Å and 2.2 Å resolution, respectively. In the ternary complex, a significant movement of domain I relative to domain II is observed that closes the active site cleft between the two domains and brings H96 and K77 in close proximity to the substrate binding site. The hydride transfer distance is 3.6 Å, and the side chains of H96 and K77 are properly positioned to act as acid-base catalysts. Preparation of the K77 to M, H96 to Q single and the K77M/H96Q double mutant enzymes provide data consistent with their role as the general acid-base catalysts in the SDH reaction. The side chain of K77 initially accepts a proton from the ε-amine of the substrate Lys and eventually donates it to the imino nitrogen as it is reduced to a secondary amine in the hydride transfer step, and H96 protonates the carbonyl oxygen as the carbinolamine is formed. The K77M, H976Q, and K77M/H96Q mutant enzymes give 145-, 28-, and 700-fold decreases in V/Et and >103 increases in V2/KLysEt and V2/Kα-KgEt (the double mutation gives >105-fold decreases in the second order rate constants). In addition, the K77M mutant enzyme exhibits a primary deuterium kinetic isotope effect of 2.0 and an inverse solvent deuterium isotope effect of 0.77 on V2/KLys. A value of 2.0 was also observed for D(V2/KLys)D2O when the primary deuterium kinetic isotope effect was repeated in D2O, consistent with a rate-limiting hydride transfer step. A viscosity effect of 0.8 was observed on V2/KLys indicating the solvent deuterium isotope effect resulted from stabilization of an enzyme form prior to hydride transfer. A small normal solvent isotope effect is observed on V, which decreases slightly when repeated with NADD, consistent with a contribution from product release to rate limitation. In addition, V2/KLysEt is pH independent consistent with the loss of an acid-base catalyst and perturbation of the pKa of the second catalytic group to higher pH, likely a result of a change in the overall charge in the active site. The primary deuterium kinetic isotope effect for H96Q, measured in H2O or D2O, is within error equal to 1. A solvent deuterium isotope effect of 2.4 is observed with NADH or NADD as the dinucleotide substrate. Data suggest rate-limiting imine formation, consistent with the proposed role of H96 in protonating the leaving hydroxyl as the imine is formed. The pH-rate profile for V2/KLysEt exhibits the pKa for K77, perturbed to a value of about 9, which must be unprotonated in order to accept a proton from the ε-amine of the substrate Lys so that it can act as a nucleophile. Overall, data are consistent with a role for K77 acting as the base that accepts a proton from the ε-amine of the substrate lysine prior to nucleophilic attack on the α-oxo group of α-ketoglutarate, and finally donating a proton to the imine nitrogen as it is reduced to give saccharopine. In addition, data indicate a role for H96 acting as a general acid-base catalyst in formation of the imine between the ε-amine of lysine and the α-oxo group of α-ketoglutarate.
PMCID: PMC3297426  PMID: 22243403
24.  Amino acid substitution in the active site of DNA polymerase β explains the energy barrier of the nucleotidyl transfer reaction 
DNA polymerase β (pol β) is a bifunctional enzyme widely studied for its roles in base excision DNA repair where one key function is gap-filling DNA synthesis. In spite of significant progress in recent years, the atomic level mechanism of the DNA synthesis reaction has remained poorly understood. Based on crystal structures of pol β in complex with its substrates and theoretical considerations of amino acids and metals in the active site, we have proposed that a nearby carboxylate group of Asp256 enables the reaction by accepting a proton from the primer O3′ group, thus activating O3′ as the nucleophile in the reaction path. Here, we tested this proposal by altering the side chain of Asp256 to Glu and then exploring the impact of this conservative change on the reaction. The D256E enzyme is more than 1,000-fold less active than the wild-type enzyme, and the crystal structures are subtly different in the active sites of the D256E and wild-type enzymes. Theoretical analysis of DNA synthesis by the D256E enzyme shows that the O3′ proton still transfers to the nearby carboxylate of residue 256. However, the electrostatic stabilization and location of the O3′ proton transfer during the reaction path are dramatically altered compared with wild-type. Surprisingly, this is due to repositioning of the Arg254 side chain in the Glu256 enzyme active site, such that Arg254 is not in position to stabilize the proton transfer from O3′. The theoretical results with the wild-type enzyme indicate early charge reorganization associated with the O3′ proton transfer, and this does not occur in the D256E enzyme. The charge reorganization is mediated by the catalytic magnesium ion in the active site.
PMCID: PMC3918438  PMID: 23647366
25.  Ground State Destabilization by Anionic Nucleophiles Contributes to the Activity of Phosphoryl Transfer Enzymes 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(7):e1001599.
Enhanced phosphate binding by phosphatases upon removal of their anionic nucleophiles suggests that these enzymes use ground state destabilization by anionic active site nucleophiles as part of their catalytic arsenal.
Enzymes stabilize transition states of reactions while limiting binding to ground states, as is generally required for any catalyst. Alkaline Phosphatase (AP) and other nonspecific phosphatases are some of Nature's most impressive catalysts, achieving preferential transition state over ground state stabilization of more than 1022-fold while utilizing interactions with only the five atoms attached to the transferred phosphorus. We tested a model that AP achieves a portion of this preference by destabilizing ground state binding via charge repulsion between the anionic active site nucleophile, Ser102, and the negatively charged phosphate monoester substrate. Removal of the Ser102 alkoxide by mutation to glycine or alanine increases the observed Pi affinity by orders of magnitude at pH 8.0. To allow precise and quantitative comparisons, the ionic form of bound Pi was determined from pH dependencies of the binding of Pi and tungstate, a Pi analog lacking titratable protons over the pH range of 5–11, and from the 31P chemical shift of bound Pi. The results show that the Pi trianion binds with an exceptionally strong femtomolar affinity in the absence of Ser102, show that its binding is destabilized by ≥108-fold by the Ser102 alkoxide, and provide direct evidence for ground state destabilization. Comparisons of X-ray crystal structures of AP with and without Ser102 reveal the same active site and Pi binding geometry upon removal of Ser102, suggesting that the destabilization does not result from a major structural rearrangement upon mutation of Ser102. Analogous Pi binding measurements with a protein tyrosine phosphatase suggest the generality of this ground state destabilization mechanism. Our results have uncovered an important contribution of anionic nucleophiles to phosphoryl transfer catalysis via ground state electrostatic destabilization and an enormous capacity of the AP active site for specific and strong recognition of the phosphoryl group in the transition state.
Author Summary
Enzymes use a variety of tools and strategies to enhance (catalyze) biological reactions; these include the use of general acids and bases, cofactors, and the employment of remote binding interactions to position substrates near reactive chemical groups. Phosphatases are some of Nature's best enzymes, affording exceptional rate enhancements to the biologically ubiquitous removal of a phosphate group from a substrate (dephosphorylation). The apparent challenge faced by nonspecific phosphatases is that their wide substrate specificity precludes the efficient use of remote binding interactions. Previous work suggested that phosphatases could use negatively charged chemical groups (anionic nucleophiles) at the active site to destabilize substrate binding without simultaneously destabilizing the transition state barrier—an elusive catalytic strategy known as preferential ground state destabilization. In this work, we test this ground state destabilization model of catalysis by removing the anionic active site nucleophile of alkaline phosphatase and observing the effects on the enzyme's affinity for a phosphate ligand. We find that alkaline phosphatase has an exceptionally strong affinity for phosphate, and provide clear evidence for ground state destabilization by the anionic active site nucleophile that, when present, forestalls substrate saturation and product inhibition, and enhances catalysis by at least a thousand fold.
PMCID: PMC3699461  PMID: 23843744

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