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1.  Characterization of an Archaeal Medium-Chain Acyl Coenzyme A Synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;192(22):5982-5990.
Short- and medium-chain acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetases catalyze the formation of acyl-CoA from an acyl substrate, ATP, and CoA. These enzymes catalyze mechanistically similar two-step reactions that proceed through an enzyme-bound acyl-AMP intermediate. Here we describe the characterization of a member of this enzyme family from the methane-producing archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans. This enzyme, a medium-chain acyl-CoA synthetase designated MacsMa, utilizes 2-methylbutyrate as its preferred substrate for acyl-CoA synthesis but cannot utilize acetate and thus cannot catalyze the first step of acetoclastic methanogenesis in M. acetivorans. When propionate or other less favorable acyl substrates, such as butyrate, 2-methylpropionate, or 2-methylvalerate, were utilized, the acyl-CoA was not produced or was produced at reduced levels. Instead, acyl-AMP and PPi were released in the absence of CoA, whereas in the presence of CoA, the intermediate was broken down into AMP and the acyl substrate, which were released along with PPi. These results suggest that although acyl-CoA synthetases may have the ability to utilize a broad range of substrates for the acyl-adenylate-forming first step of the reaction, the intermediate may not be suitable for the thioester-forming second step. The MacsMa structure has revealed the putative acyl substrate- and CoA-binding pockets. Six residues proposed to form the acyl substrate-binding pocket, Lys256, Cys298, Gly351, Trp259, Trp237, and Trp254, were targeted for alteration. Characterization of the enzyme variants indicates that these six residues are critical in acyl substrate binding and catalysis, and even conservative alterations significantly reduced the catalytic ability of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2976453  PMID: 20851904
2.  The Acetylation Motif in AMP-Forming Acyl Coenzyme A Synthetases Contains Residues Critical for Acetylation and Recognition by the Protein Acetyltransferase Pat of Rhodopseudomonas palustris 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(8):1496-1504.
The AMP-forming acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA) synthetases are a large class of enzymes found in both anabolic and catabolic pathways that activate fatty acids to acyl-CoA molecules. The protein acetyltransferase (Pat) from Rhodopseudomonas palustris (RpPat) inactivates AMP-forming acyl-CoA synthetases by acetylating the ε-amino group of a conserved, catalytic lysine residue. In all of the previously described RpPat substrates, this lysine residue is located within a PX4GK motif that has been proposed to be a recognition motif for RpPat. Here, we report five new substrates for RpPat, all of which are also AMP-forming acyl-CoA synthetases. This finding supports the idea that Pat enzymes may have evolved to control the activity of this family of enzymes. Notably, RpPat did not acetylate the wild-type long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase B (RpLcsB; formerly Rpa2714) enzyme of this bacterium. However, a single amino acid change two residues upstream of the acetylation site was sufficient to convert RpLcsB into an RpPat substrate. The results of mutational and functional analyses of RpLcsB and RpPimA variants led us to propose PK/RTXS/T/V/NGKX2K/R as a substrate recognition motif. The underlined positions within this motif are particularly important for acetylation by RpPat. The first residue, threonine, is located 4 amino acids upstream of the acetylation site. The second residue can be S/T/V/N and is located two positions upstream of the acetylation site. Analysis of published crystal structures suggests that the side chains of these two residues are very close to the acetylated lysine residue, indicating that they may directly interact with RpPat.
PMCID: PMC3993356  PMID: 24488314
3.  The 2.1Å Crystal Structure of an Acyl-CoA Synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans reveals an alternate acyl binding pocket for small branched acyl substrates†,‡ 
Proteins  2009;77(3):685-698.
The acyl-AMP forming family of adenylating enzymes catalyze two-step reactions to activate a carboxylate with the chemical energy derived from ATP hydrolysis. X-ray crystal structures have been determined for multiple members of this family and, together with biochemical studies, provide insights into the active site and catalytic mechanisms used by these enzymes. These studies have shown that the enzymes use a domain rotation of 140° to reconfigure a single active site to catalyze the two partial reactions. We present here the crystal structure of a new medium chain acyl-CoA synthetase from Methanosarcina acetivorans. The binding pocket for the three substrates is analyzed, with many conserved residues present in the AMP binding pocket. The CoA binding pocket is compared to the pockets of both acetyl-CoA synthetase and 4-chlorobenzoate:CoA ligase. Most interestingly, the acyl binding pocket of the new structure is compared with other acyl- and aryl-CoA synthetases. A comparison of the acyl-binding pocket of the acyl-CoA synthetase from M. acetivorans with other structures identifies a shallow pocket that is used to bind the medium chain carboxylates. These insights emphasize the high sequence and structural diversity among this family in the area of the acyl binding pocket.
PMCID: PMC2767475  PMID: 19544569
Adenylate-forming enzyme; substrate specificity; X-ray crystallography
4.  Mammalian Long-Chain Acyl-CoA Synthetases 
Acyl-CoA synthetase enzymes are essential for de novo lipid synthesis, fatty acid catabolism, and remodeling of membranes. Activation of fatty acids requires a two-step reaction catalyzed by these enzymes. In the first step, an acyl-AMP intermediate is formed from ATP. AMP is then exchanged with CoA to produce the activated acyl-CoA. The release of AMP in this reaction defines the superfamily of AMP-forming enzymes. The length of the carbon chain of the fatty acid species defines the substrate specificity for the different acyl-CoA synthetases (ACS). On this basis, five sub-families of ACS have been characterized. The purpose of this review is to report on the large family of mammalian long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases (ACSL), which activate fatty acids with chain lengths of 12 to 20 carbon atoms. Five genes and several isoforms generated by alternative splicing have been identified and limited information is available on their localization. The structure of these membrane proteins has not been solved for the mammalian ACSLs but homology to a bacterial form, whose structure has been determined, points at specific structural features that are important for these enzymes across species. The bacterial form acts as a dimer and has a conserved short motif, called the fatty acid Gate domain, that seems to determine substrate specificity. We will discuss the characterization and identification of the different spliced isoforms, draw attention to the inconsistencies and errors in their annotations, and their cellular localizations. These membrane proteins act on membrane-bound substrates probably as homo- and as heterodimer complexes but have often been expressed as single recombinant isoforms, apparently purified as monomers and tested in Triton X-100 micelles. We will argue that such studies have failed to provide an accurate assessment of the activity and of the distinct function of these enzymes in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3377585  PMID: 18375835
5.  Crystal Structure of a Type III Pantothenate Kinase: Insight into the Mechanism of an Essential Coenzyme A Biosynthetic Enzyme Universally Distributed in Bacteria†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(15):5532-5540.
Pantothenate kinase (PanK) catalyzes the first step in the five-step universal pathway of coenzyme A (CoA) biosynthesis, a key transformation that generally also regulates the intracellular concentration of CoA through feedback inhibition. A novel PanK protein encoded by the gene coaX was recently identified that is distinct from the previously characterized type I PanK (exemplified by the Escherichia coli coaA-encoded PanK protein) and type II eukaryotic PanKs and is not inhibited by CoA or its thioesters. This type III PanK, or PanK-III, is widely distributed in the bacterial kingdom and accounts for the only known PanK in many pathogenic species, such as Helicobacter pylori, Bordetella pertussis, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Here we report the first crystal structure of a type III PanK, the enzyme from Thermotoga maritima (PanKTm), solved at 2.0-Å resolution. The structure of PanKTm reveals that type III PanKs belong to the acetate and sugar kinase/heat shock protein 70/actin (ASKHA) protein superfamily and that they retain the highly conserved active site motifs common to all members of this superfamily. Comparative structural analysis of the PanKTm active site configuration and mutagenesis of three highly conserved active site aspartates identify these residues as critical for PanK-III catalysis. Furthermore, the analysis also provides an explanation for the lack of CoA feedback inhibition by the enzyme. Since PanK-III adopts a different structural fold from that of the E. coli PanK—which is a member of the “P-loop kinase”superfamily—this finding represents yet another example of convergent evolution of the same biological function from a different protein ancestor.
PMCID: PMC1540032  PMID: 16855243
6.  Activity of the acyl-CoA synthetase ACSL6 isoforms: role of the fatty acid Gate-domains 
BMC Biochemistry  2010;11:18.
Activation of fatty acids by acyl-CoA synthetase enzymes is required for de novo lipid synthesis, fatty acid catabolism, and remodeling of biological membranes. Human long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase member 6, ASCL6, is a form present in the plasma membrane of cells. Splicing events affecting the amino-terminus and alternative motifs near the ATP-binding site generate different isoforms of ACSL6.
Isoforms with different fatty acid Gate-domain motifs have different activity and the form lacking this domain, isoform 3, showed no detectable activity. Enzymes truncated of the first 40 residues generate acyl-CoAs at a faster rate than the full-length protein. The gating residue, which prevents entry of the fatty acid substrate unless one molecule of ATP has already accessed the catalytic site, was identified as a tyrosine for isoform 1 and a phenylalanine for isoform 2 at position 319. All isoforms, with or without a fatty acid Gate-domain, as well as recombinant protein truncated of the N-terminus, can interact to form enzymatic complexes with identical or different isoforms.
The alternative fatty acid Gate-domain motifs are essential determinants for the activity of the human ACSL6 isoforms, which appear to act as homodimeric enzyme as well as in complex with other spliced forms. These findings provide evidence that the diversity of these enzyme species could produce the variety of acyl-CoA synthetase activities that are necessary to generate and repair the hundreds of lipid species present in membranes.
PMCID: PMC2868784  PMID: 20429931
7.  Structural Relationships in the Lysozyme Superfamily: Significant Evidence for Glycoside Hydrolase Signature Motifs 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15388.
Chitin is a polysaccharide that forms the hard, outer shell of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi and some algae. Peptidoglycan is a polymer of sugars and amino acids constituting the cell walls of most bacteria. Enzymes that are able to hydrolyze these cell membrane polymers generally play important roles for protecting plants and animals against infection with insects and pathogens. A particular group of such glycoside hydrolase enzymes share some common features in their three-dimensional structure and in their molecular mechanism, forming the lysozyme superfamily.
Besides having a similar fold, all known catalytic domains of glycoside hydrolase proteins of lysozyme superfamily (families and subfamilies GH19, GH22, GH23, GH24 and GH46) share in common two structural elements: the central helix of the all-α domain, which invariably contains the catalytic glutamate residue acting as general-acid catalyst, and a β-hairpin pointed towards the substrate binding cleft. The invariant β-hairpin structure is interestingly found to display the highest amino acid conservation in aligned sequences of a given family, thereby allowing to define signature motifs for each GH family. Most of such signature motifs are found to have promising performances for searching sequence databases. Our structural analysis further indicates that the GH motifs participate in enzymatic catalysis essentially by containing the catalytic water positioning residue of inverting mechanism.
The seven families and subfamilies of the lysozyme superfamily all have in common a β-hairpin structure which displays a family-specific sequence motif. These GH β-hairpin motifs contain potentially important residues for the catalytic activity, thereby suggesting the participation of the GH motif to catalysis and also revealing a common catalytic scheme utilized by enzymes of the lysozyme superfamily.
PMCID: PMC2976769  PMID: 21085702
8.  The role of the C8 proton of ATP in the catalysis of shikimate kinase and adenylate kinase 
BMC Biochemistry  2012;13:15.
It has been demonstrated that the adenyl moiety of ATP plays a direct role in the regulation of ATP binding and/or phosphoryl transfer within a range of kinase and synthetase enzymes. The role of the C8-H of ATP in the binding and/or phosphoryl transfer on the enzyme activity of a number of kinase and synthetase enzymes has been elucidated. The intrinsic catalysis rate mediated by each kinase enzyme is complex, yielding apparent KM values ranging from less than 0.4 μM to more than 1 mM for ATP in the various kinases. Using a combination of ATP deuterated at the C8 position (C8D-ATP) as a molecular probe with site directed mutagenesis (SDM) of conserved amino acid residues in shikimate kinase and adenylate kinase active sites, we have elucidated a mechanism by which the ATP C8-H is induced to be labile in the broader kinase family. We have demonstrated the direct role of the C8-H in the rate of ATP consumption, and the direct role played by conserved Thr residues interacting with the C8-H. The mechanism by which the vast range in KM might be achieved is also suggested by these findings.
We have demonstrated the mechanism by which the enzyme activities of Group 2 kinases, shikimate kinase (SK) and adenylate kinase 1 (AK1), are controlled by the C8-H of ATP. Mutations of the conserved threonine residues associated with the labile C8-H cause the enzymes to lose their saturation kinetics over the concentration range tested. The relationship between the role C8-H of ATP in the reaction mechanism and the ATP concentration as they influence the saturation kinetics of the enzyme activity is also shown. The SDM clearly identified the amino acid residues involved in both the catalysis and regulation of phosphoryl transfer in SK and AK1 as mediated by C8H-ATP.
The data outlined serves to demonstrate the “push” mechanism associated with the control of the saturation kinetics of Group 2 kinases mediated by ATP C8-H. It is therefore conceivable that kinase enzymes achieve the observed 2,500-fold variation in KM through a combination of the various conserved “push” and “pull” mechanisms associated with the release of C8-H, the proton transfer cascades unique to the class of kinase in question and the resultant/concomitant creation of a pentavalent species from the γ-phosphate group of ATP. Also demonstrated is the interplay between the role of the C8-H of ATP and the ATP concentration in the observed enzyme activity. The lability of the C8-H mediated by active site residues co-ordinated to the purine ring of ATP therefore plays a significant role in explaining the broad KM range associated with kinase steady state enzyme activities.
PMCID: PMC3537612  PMID: 22876783
9.  A Conserved Histidine Is Essential for Glycerolipid Acyltransferase Catalysis 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(6):1425-1430.
Sequence analysis of membrane-bound glycerolipid acyltransferases revealed that proteins from the bacterial, plant, and animal kingdoms share a highly conserved domain containing invariant histidine and aspartic acid residues separated by four less conserved residues in an HX4D configuration. We investigated the role of the invariant histidine residue in acyltransferase catalysis by site-directed mutagenesis of two representative members of this family, the sn-glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase (PlsB) and the bifunctional 2-acyl-glycerophosphoethanolamine acyltransferase/acyl-acyl carrier protein synthetase (Aas) of Escherichia coli. Both the PlsB[H306A] and Aas[H36A] mutants lacked acyltransferase activity. However, the Aas[H36A] mutant retained significant acyl-acyl carrier protein synthetase activity, illustrating that the lack of acyltransferase activity was specifically associated with the H36A substitution. The invariant aspartic acid residue in the HX4D pattern was also important. The substitution of aspartic acid 311 with glutamic acid in PlsB resulted in an enzyme with significantly reduced catalytic activity. Substitution of an alanine at this position eliminated acyltransferase activity; however, the PlsB[D311A] mutant protein did not assemble into the membrane, indicating that aspartic acid 311 is also important for the proper folding and membrane insertion of the acyltransferases. These data are consistent with a mechanism for glycerolipid acyltransferase catalysis where the invariant histidine functions as a general base to deprotonate the hydroxyl moiety of the acyl acceptor.
PMCID: PMC107040  PMID: 9515909
10.  Structural Characterization of a 140° Domain Movement in the Two-Step Reaction Catalyzed by 4-Chlorobenzoate:CoA Ligase# 
Biochemistry  2008;47(31):8016-8025.
Members of the adenylate-forming family of enzymes play a role in the metabolism of halogenated aromatics and of short, medium, and long chain fatty acids, as well as in the biosynthesis of menaquinone, peptide antibiotics, and peptide siderophores. This family includes a subfamily of acyl- and aryl-CoA ligases that catalyze thioester synthesis through two half-reactions. A carboxylate substrate first reacts with ATP to form an acyl-adenylate. Subsequent to the release of the product PPi, the enzyme binds CoA, which attacks the activated acyl group to displace AMP. Structural and functional studies on different family members suggest that these enzymes alternate between two conformations during catalysis of the two half-reactions. Specifically, after the initial adenylation step, the C-terminal domain rotates by ~140° to adopt a second conformation for thioester formation. Previously, we determined the structure of 4-chlorobenzoate:CoA ligase (CBL) in the adenylate forming conformation bound to 4-chlorobenzoate. We have determined two new crystal structures. We have determined the structure of CBL in the original adenylate-forming conformation, bound to the adenylate intermediate. Additionally, we have used a novel product analog, 4-chlorophenacyl-CoA, to trap the enzyme in the thioester-forming conformation and determined this structure in a new crystal form. This work identifies a novel binding pocket for the CoA nucleotide. The structures presented herein provide the foundation for biochemical analyses presented in the accompanying manuscript (Wu et al.). The complete characterization of this enzyme allows us to provide an explanation for the use of the domain alternation strategy by these enzymes.
PMCID: PMC2666193  PMID: 18620418
4-chorobenzoate: CoA ligase; 4-chlorobenzoate; coenzyme A; adenylate-forming enzyme superfamily; acyl-adenylate; X-ray structure; Domain Alternation; enzyme conformational changes
11.  Biochemical Characterization of Pantoate Kinase, a Novel Enzyme Necessary for Coenzyme A Biosynthesis in the Archaea 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(19):5434-5443.
Although bacteria and eukaryotes share a pathway for coenzyme A (CoA) biosynthesis, we previously clarified that most archaea utilize a distinct pathway for the conversion of pantoate to 4′-phosphopantothenate. Whereas bacteria/eukaryotes use pantothenate synthetase and pantothenate kinase (PanK), the hyperthermophilic archaeon Thermococcus kodakarensis utilizes two novel enzymes: pantoate kinase (PoK) and phosphopantothenate synthetase (PPS). Here, we report a detailed biochemical examination of PoK from T. kodakarensis. Kinetic analyses revealed that the PoK reaction displayed Michaelis-Menten kinetics toward ATP, whereas substrate inhibition was observed with pantoate. PoK activity was not affected by the addition of CoA/acetyl-CoA. Interestingly, PoK displayed broad nucleotide specificity and utilized ATP, GTP, UTP, and CTP with comparable kcat/Km values. Sequence alignment of 27 PoK homologs revealed seven conserved residues with reactive side chains, and variant proteins were constructed for each residue. Activity was not detected when mutations were introduced to Ser104, Glu134, and Asp143, suggesting that these residues play vital roles in PoK catalysis. Kinetic analysis of the other variant proteins, with mutations S28A, H131A, R155A, and T186A, indicated that all four residues are involved in pantoate recognition and that Arg155 and Thr186 play important roles in PoK catalysis. Gel filtration analyses of the variant proteins indicated that Thr186 is also involved in dimer assembly. A sequence comparison between PoK and other members of the GHMP kinase family suggests that Ser104 and Glu134 are involved in binding with phosphate and Mg2+, respectively, while Asp143 is the base responsible for proton abstraction from the pantoate hydroxy group.
PMCID: PMC3457225  PMID: 22865846
12.  Characterization of a Bifunctional Archaeal Acyl Coenzyme A Carboxylase 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(3):938-947.
Acyl coenzyme A carboxylase (acyl-CoA carboxylase) was purified from Acidianus brierleyi. The purified enzyme showed a unique subunit structure (three subunits with apparent molecular masses of 62, 59, and 20 kDa) and a molecular mass of approximately 540 kDa, indicating an α4β4γ4 subunit structure. The optimum temperature for the enzyme was 60 to 70°C, and the optimum pH was around 6.4 to 6.9. Interestingly, the purified enzyme also had propionyl-CoA carboxylase activity. The apparent Km for acetyl-CoA was 0.17 ± 0.03 mM, with a Vmax of 43.3 ± 2.8 U mg−1, and the Km for propionyl-CoA was 0.10 ± 0.008 mM, with a Vmax of 40.8 ± 1.0 U mg−1. This result showed that A. brierleyi acyl-CoA carboxylase is a bifunctional enzyme in the modified 3-hydroxypropionate cycle. Both enzymatic activities were inhibited by malonyl-CoA, methymalonyl-CoA, succinyl-CoA, or CoA but not by palmitoyl-CoA. The gene encoding acyl-CoA carboxylase was cloned and characterized. Homology searches of the deduced amino acid sequences of the 62-, 59-, and 20-kDa subunits indicated the presence of functional domains for carboxyltransferase, biotin carboxylase, and biotin carboxyl carrier protein, respectively. Amino acid sequence alignment of acetyl-CoA carboxylases revealed that archaeal acyl-CoA carboxylases are closer to those of Bacteria than to those of Eucarya. The substrate-binding motifs of the enzymes are highly conserved among the three domains. The ATP-binding residues were found in the biotin carboxylase subunit, whereas the conserved biotin-binding site was located on the biotin carboxyl carrier protein. The acyl-CoA-binding site and the carboxybiotin-binding site were found in the carboxyltransferase subunit.
PMCID: PMC142822  PMID: 12533469
13.  Identification of Critical Residues of the Mycobacterial Dephosphocoenzyme A Kinase by Site-Directed Mutagenesis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15228.
Dephosphocoenzyme A kinase performs the transfer of the γ-phosphate of ATP to dephosphocoenzyme A, catalyzing the last step of coenzyme A biosynthesis. This enzyme belongs to the P-loop-containing NTP hydrolase superfamily, all members of which posses a three domain topology consisting of a CoA domain that binds the acceptor substrate, the nucleotide binding domain and the lid domain. Differences in the enzymatic organization and regulation between the human and mycobacterial counterparts, have pointed out the tubercular CoaE as a high confidence drug target (HAMAP database). Unfortunately the absence of a three-dimensional crystal structure of the enzyme, either alone or complexed with either of its substrates/regulators, leaves both the reaction mechanism unidentified and the chief players involved in substrate binding, stabilization and catalysis unknown. Based on homology modeling and sequence analysis, we chose residues in the three functional domains of the enzyme to assess their contributions to ligand binding and catalysis using site-directed mutagenesis. Systematically mutating the residues from the P-loop and the nucleotide-binding site identified Lys14 and Arg140 in ATP binding and the stabilization of the phosphoryl intermediate during the phosphotransfer reaction. Mutagenesis of Asp32 and Arg140 showed catalytic efficiencies less than 5–10% of the wild type, indicating the pivotal roles played by these residues in catalysis. Non-conservative substitution of the Leu114 residue identifies this leucine as the critical residue from the hydrophobic cleft involved in leading substrate, DCoA binding. We show that the mycobacterial enzyme requires the Mg2+ for its catalytic activity. The binding energetics of the interactions of the mutant enzymes with the substrates were characterized in terms of their enthalpic and entropic contributions by ITC, providing a complete picture of the effects of the mutations on activity. The properties of mutants defective in substrate recognition were consistent with the ordered sequential mechanism of substrate addition for CoaE.
PMCID: PMC3019153  PMID: 21264299
14.  Biochemical and Crystallographic Analysis of Substrate Binding and Conformational Changes in Acetyl-CoA Synthetase 
Biochemistry  2007;46(22):6536-6546.
The adenylate-forming enzymes, including acyl-CoA synthetases, the adenylation domains of non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS), and firefly luciferase, perform two half-reactions in a ping-pong mechanism. We have proposed a Domain Alternation mechanism for these enzymes whereby, upon completion of the initial adenylation reaction, the C-terminal domain of these enzymes undergoes a 140° rotation to perform the second thioester-forming half reaction. Structural and kinetic data of mutant enzymes support this hypothesis. We present here mutations to Salmonella enterica Acetyl-CoA Synthetase (Acs) and test the ability of the enzymes to catalyze the complete reaction and the adenylation half-reaction. Substitution of Lys609 with alanine results in an enzyme that is unable to catalyze the adenylate reaction, while the Gly524 to leucine substitution is unable to catalyze the complete reaction yet catalyzes the adenylation half-reaction with activity comparable to the wild-type enzyme. The positions of these two residues, which are located on the mobile C-terminal domain, strongly support the domain alternation hypothesis. We also present steady-state kinetic data of putative substrate-binding residues and demonstrate that no single residue plays a dominant role in dictating CoA binding. We have also created two mutations in the active site to alter the acyl substrate specificity. Finally, the crystallographic structures of wild-type Acs and mutants R194A, R584A, R584E, K609A, and V386A are presented to support the biochemical analysis.
PMCID: PMC2536627  PMID: 17497934
Adenylate-forming Enzymes; Non-Ribosomal Peptide Synthetase; Domain Alteration; X-ray Crystallography; CoA-ligase
15.  Structural and Functional Studies Suggest a Catalytic Mechanism for the Phosphotransacetylase from Methanosarcina thermophila 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(3):1143-1154.
Phosphotransacetylase (EC catalyzes reversible transfer of the acetyl group from acetyl phosphate to coenzyme A (CoA), forming acetyl-CoA and inorganic phosphate. Two crystal structures of phosphotransacetylase from the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina thermophila in complex with the substrate CoA revealed one CoA (CoA1) bound in the proposed active site cleft and an additional CoA (CoA2) bound at the periphery of the cleft. The results of isothermal titration calorimetry experiments are described, and they support the hypothesis that there are distinct high-affinity (equilibrium dissociation constant [KD], 20 μM) and low-affinity (KD, 2 mM) CoA binding sites. The crystal structures indicated that binding of CoA1 is mediated by a series of hydrogen bonds and extensive van der Waals interactions with the enzyme and that there are fewer of these interactions between CoA2 and the enzyme. Different conformations of the protein observed in the crystal structures suggest that domain movements which alter the geometry of the active site cleft may contribute to catalysis. Kinetic and calorimetric analyses of site-specific replacement variants indicated that there are catalytic roles for Ser309 and Arg310, which are proximal to the reactive sulfhydryl of CoA1. The reaction is hypothesized to proceed through base-catalyzed abstraction of the thiol proton of CoA by the adjacent and invariant residue Asp316, followed by nucleophilic attack of the thiolate anion of CoA on the carbonyl carbon of acetyl phosphate. We propose that Arg310 binds acetyl phosphate and orients it for optimal nucleophilic attack. The hypothesized mechanism proceeds through a negatively charged transition state stabilized by hydrogen bond donation from Ser309.
PMCID: PMC1347337  PMID: 16428418
16.  Thiolation-enhanced substrate recognition by D-alanyl carrier protein ligase DltA from Bacillus cereus  
F1000Research  2014;3:106.
D-alanylation of the lipoteichoic acid on Gram-positive cell wall is dependent on dlt gene-encoded proteins DltA, DltB, DltC and DltD. The D-alanyl carrier protein ligase DltA, as a remote homolog of acyl-(coenzyme A) (CoA) synthetase, cycles through two active conformations for the catalysis of adenylation and subsequent thiolation of D-alanine (D-Ala). The crystal structure of DltA in the absence of any substrate was observed to have a noticeably more disordered pocket for ATP which would explain why DltA has relatively low affinity for ATP in the absence of any D-alanyl carrier. We have previously enabled the thiolation of D-alanine in the presence of CoA as the mimic of D-alanyl carrier protein DltC which carries a 4’-phosphopantetheine group on a serine residue. Here we show that the resulting Michaelis constants in the presence of saturating CoA for both ATP and D-alanine were reduced more than 10 fold as compared to the values obtained in the absence of CoA. The presence of CoA also made DltA ~100-fold more selective on D-alanine over L-alanine. The CoA-enhanced substrate recognition further implies that the ATP and D-alanine substrates of the adenylation reaction are incorporated when the DltA enzyme cycles through its thiolation conformation.
PMCID: PMC4176424  PMID: 25285205
17.  The Rodin-Ohno hypothesis that two enzyme superfamilies descended from one ancestral gene: an unlikely scenario for the origins of translation that will not be dismissed 
Biology Direct  2014;9:11.
Because amino acid activation is rate-limiting for uncatalyzed protein synthesis, it is a key puzzle in understanding the origin of the genetic code. Two unrelated classes (I and II) of contemporary aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS) now translate the code. Observing that codons for the most highly conserved, Class I catalytic peptides, when read in the reverse direction, are very nearly anticodons for Class II defining catalytic peptides, Rodin and Ohno proposed that the two superfamilies descended from opposite strands of the same ancestral gene. This unusual hypothesis languished for a decade, perhaps because it appeared to be unfalsifiable.
The proposed sense/antisense alignment makes important predictions. Fragments that align in antiparallel orientations, and contain the respective active sites, should catalyze the same two reactions catalyzed by contemporary synthetases. Recent experiments confirmed that prediction. Invariant cores from both classes, called Urzymes after Ur = primitive, authentic, plus enzyme and representing ~20% of the contemporary structures, can be expressed and exhibit high, proportionate rate accelerations for both amino-acid activation and tRNA acylation. A major fraction (60%) of the catalytic rate acceleration by contemporary synthetases resides in segments that align sense/antisense. Bioinformatic evidence for sense/antisense ancestry extends to codons specifying the invariant secondary and tertiary structures outside the active sites of the two synthetase classes. Peptides from a designed, 46-residue gene constrained by Rosetta to encode Class I and II ATP binding sites with fully complementary sequences both accelerate amino acid activation by ATP ~400 fold.
Biochemical and bioinformatic results substantially enhance the posterior probability that ancestors of the two synthetase classes arose from opposite strands of the same ancestral gene. The remarkable acceleration by short peptides of the rate-limiting step in uncatalyzed protein synthesis, together with the synergy of synthetase Urzymes and their cognate tRNAs, introduce a new paradigm for the origin of protein catalysts, emphasize the potential relevance of an operational RNA code embedded in the tRNA acceptor stems, and challenge the RNA-World hypothesis.
This article was reviewed by Dr. Paul Schimmel (nominated by Laura Landweber), Dr. Eugene Koonin and Professor David Ardell.
PMCID: PMC4082485  PMID: 24927791
Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases; Urzymes; Genetic code; Origin of Translation; RNA World hypothesis; Amino acid activation; Structural homology; Ancestral genes; Sense/antisense coding
18.  Analysis of the syrB and syrC genes of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae indicates that syringomycin is synthesized by a thiotemplate mechanism. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(14):4009-4020.
The syrB and syrC genes are required for synthesis of syringomycin, a lipodepsipeptide phytotoxin produced by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae, and are induced by plant-derived signal molecules. A 4,842-bp chromosomal region containing the syrB and syrC genes of strain B301D was sequenced and characterized. The open reading frame (ORF) of syrB was 2,847 bp in length and was predicted to encode an approximately 105-kDa protein, SyrB, with 949 amino acids. Searches of databases revealed that SyrB shares homology with members of a superfamily of adenylate-forming enzymes involved in peptide antibiotic and siderophore synthesis in a diverse spectrum of microorganisms. SyrB exhibited the highest degree of overall similarity (56.4%) and identity (33.8%) with the first amino acid-activating domain of pyoverdin synthetase, PvdD, of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The N-terminal portion of SyrB contained a domain of approximately 600 amino acids that resembles the amino acid-activating domains of thiotemplate-employing peptide synthetases. The SyrB domain contained six signature core sequences with the same order and spacing as observed in all known amino acid-activating domains involved in nonribosomal peptide synthesis. Core sequence 6 of SyrB, for example, was similar to the binding site for 4'-phosphopantetheine, a cofactor required for thioester formation. The syrC ORF (1,299 bp) was located 175 bp downstream of the syrB ORF. Analysis of the transcriptional and translational relationship between the syrB and syrC genes demonstrated that they are expressed independently. The syrC ORF was predicted to encode an approximately 48-kDa protein product of 433 amino acids which is 42 to 48% similar to a number of thioesterases, including fatty acid thioesterases, haloperoxidases, and acyltransferases, that contain a characteristic GXS (C) XG motif. In addition, a zinc-binding motif was found near the C terminus of SyrC. The data suggest that SyrB and SyrC function as peptide synthetases in a thiotemplate mechanism of syringomycin biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC177131  PMID: 7608074
19.  Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) biosynthesis in Escherichia coli: evidence for the presence of an essential histidine residue in o-succinylbenzoyl coenzyme A synthetase. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(19):6061-6065.
o-Succinylbenzoyl coenzyme A (OSB-CoA) synthetase, when treated with diethylpyrocarbonate (DEP), showed a time-dependent loss of enzyme activity. The inactivation follows pseudo-first-order kinetics with a second-order rate constant of 9.2 x 10(-4) +/- 1.4 x 10(-4) microM(-1) min(-1). The difference spectrum of the modified enzyme versus the native enzyme showed an increase in A242 that is characteristic of N-carbethoxyhistidine and was reversed by treatment with hydroxylamine. Inactivation due to nonspecific secondary structural changes in the protein and modification of tyrosine, lysine, or cysteine residues was ruled out. Kinetics of enzyme inactivation and the stoichiometry of histidine modification indicate that of the eight histidine residues modified per subunit of the enzyme, a single residue is responsible for the enzyme activity. A plot of the log reciprocal of the half-time of inactivation against the log DEP concentration further suggests that one histidine residue is involved in the catalysis. Further, the enzyme was partially protected from inactivation by either o-succinylbenzoic acid (OSB), ATP, or ATP plus Mg2+ while inactivation was completely prevented by the presence of the combination of OSB, ATP, and Mg2+. Thus, it appears that a histidine residue located at or near the active site of the enzyme is essential for activity. When His341 present in the previously identified ATP binding motif was mutated to Ala, the enzyme lost 65% of its activity and the Km for ATP increased 5.4-fold. Thus, His341 of OSB-CoA synthetase plays an important role in catalysis since it is probably involved in the binding of ATP to the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC179509  PMID: 9324253
20.  Multiple erythroid isoforms of human long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases are produced by switch of the fatty acid gate domains 
The formation of acyl-CoA by the action of acyl-CoA synthetases plays a crucial role in membrane lipid turnover, including the plasma membrane of erythrocytes. In human, five Acyl-CoA Synthetase Long-chain (ACSL) genes have been identified with as many as 3 different transcript variants for each.
Acyl-CoA Synthetase Long-chain member 6 (ACSL6) is responsible for activation of long-chain fatty acids in erythrocytes. Two additional transcript variants were also isolated from brain and testis. We report the expression in reticulocytes of two new variants and of the one isolated from brain. All three represented different spliced variants of a mutually exclusive exon pair. They encode a slightly different short motif which contains a conserved structural domain, the fatty acid Gate domain. The motifs differ in the presence of either the aromatic residue phenylalanine (Phe) or tyrosine (Tyr). Based on homology, two new isoforms for the closely related ACSL1 were predicted and characterized. One represented a switch of the Phe- to the Tyr-Gate domain motif, the other resulted from the exclusion of both. Swapping of this motif also appears to be common in all mammalian ACSL member 1 and 6 homologs.
We propose that a Phe to Tyr substitution or deletion of the Gate domain, is the structural reason for the conserved alternative splicing that affects these motifs. Our findings support our hypothesis that this region is structurally important to define the activity of these enzymes.
PMCID: PMC1543647  PMID: 16834775
21.  Helicobacter pylori Glutamine Synthetase Lacks Features Associated with Transcriptional and Posttranslational Regulation 
Infection and Immunity  1998;66(5):1839-1847.
Helicobacter pylori urease, produced in abundance, is indispensable for the survival of H. pylori in animal hosts. Urea is hydrolyzed by the enzyme, resulting in the liberation of excess ammonia, some of which neutralizes gastric acid. The remaining ammonia is assimilated into protein by glutamine synthetase (EC, which catalyzes the reaction: NH3 + glutamate + ATP→glutamine + ADP + Pi. We hypothesized that glutamine synthetase plays an unusually critical role in nitrogen assimilation by H. pylori. We developed a phenotypic screen to isolate genes that contribute to the synthesis of a catalytically active urease. Escherichia coli SE5000 transformed with plasmid pHP808 containing the entire H. pylori urease gene cluster was cotransformed with a pBluescript plasmid library of the H. pylori ATCC 43504 genome. A weakly urease-positive 9.4-kb clone, pUEF728, was subjected to nucleotide sequencing. Among other genes, the gene for glutamine synthetase was identified. The complete 1,443-bp glnA gene predicts a polypeptide of 481 amino acid residues with a molecular weight of 54,317; this was supported by maxicell analysis of cloned glnA expressed in E. coli. The top 10 homologs were all bacterial glutamine synthetases, including Salmonella typhimurium glnA. The ATP-binding motif GDNGSG (residues 272 to 277) of H. pylori GlnA exactly matched and aligned with the sequence in 8 of the 10 homologs. The adenylation site found in the top 10 homologs (consensus sequence, NLYDLP) is replaced in H. pylori by NLFKLT (residues 405 to 410). Since the Tyr (Y) residue is the target of adenylation and since the H. pylori glutamine synthetase lacks that residue in four strains examined, we conclude that no adenylation occurs within this motif. Cloned H. pylori glnA complemented a glnA mutation in E. coli, and GlnA enzyme activity could be measured spectrophotometrically. In an attempt to produce a GlnA-deficient mutant of H. pylori, a kanamycin resistance cassette was cloned into the Tth111I site of H. pylori glnA. By using the standard technique of allelic exchange mutagenesis, no verifiable glutamine synthetase double-crossover mutant of strain UMAB41 could be isolated, suggesting that the mutation is lethal. We conclude that glutamine synthetase is critical for nitrogen assimilation in H. pylori and is active under all physiologic conditions.
PMCID: PMC108133  PMID: 9573059
22.  Mutational analysis of Chlorella virus DNA ligase: catalytic roles of domain I and motif VI. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(20):4618-4625.
A conserved catalytic core of the ATP-dependent DNA ligases is composed of an N-terminal domain (domain 1, containing nucleotidyl transferase motifs I, III, IIIa and IV) and a C-terminal domain (domain 2, containing motif VI) with an intervening cleft. Motif V links the two structural domains. Deletion analysis of the 298 amino acid Chlorella virus DNA ligase indicates that motif VI plays a critical role in the reaction of ligase with ATP to form ligase-adenylate, but is dispensable for the two subsequent steps in the ligation pathway; DNA-adenylate formation and strand closure. We find that formation of a phosphodiester at a pre-adenylated nick is subject to a rate limiting step that does not apply during the sealing of nicked DNA by ligase-adenylate. This step, presumably conformational, is accelerated or circumvented by deleting five amino acids of motif VI. The motif I lysine nucleophile (Lys27) is not required for strand closure by wild-type ligase, but this residue enhances the closure rate by a factor of 16 when motif VI is truncated. We find that a more extensively truncated ligase consisting of only N-terminal domain 1 and motif V is inert in ligase--adenylate formation, but competent to catalyze strand closure at a pre-adenylated nick. These results suggest that different enzymic catalysts facilitate the three steps of the DNA ligase reaction.
PMCID: PMC147904  PMID: 9753729
23.  Structural basis for acyl acceptor specificity in the achrombactin biosynthetic enzyme AcsD 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;412(3):495-504.
Siderophores are known virulence factors and their biosynthesis is a target for new antibacterial agents. A nonribosomal peptide synthetase independent siderophore (NIS) biosynthetic pathway in Dickeya dadantii is responsible for production of the siderophore achromobactin. The D. dadantii AcsD enzyme has been shown to enantioselectively esterify citric acid with L-serine in the first committed step of achromobactin biosynthesis. The reaction occurs in two steps: stereospecific activation of citric acid by adenylation, followed by attack of the enzyme bound citryl adenylate by L-serine to give the homochiral ester. We now report a detailed characterization of the substrate profile and mechanism of the second (acyl transfer) step of AcsD enzyme. We demonstrate that the enzyme catalyzes formation of not only esters, but also amides from the citryl-adenylate intermediate. We have rationalized the substrate utilization profile for the acylation reaction by determining the first X-ray crystal structure of a product complex for this enzyme class. We have identified the residues that are important for both recognition of L-serine and catalysis of ester formation. Our hypotheses were tested by biochemical analysis of various mutants, one of which shows a reversal of specificity from the wild type with respect to non-natural substrates. This change can be rationalized on the basis of our structural data. That this change in specificity is accompanied by no loss in activity suggests that AcsD and other members of the NIS synthetase superfamily may have biotransformation potential.
PMCID: PMC3323832  PMID: 21835184
24.  Isolation and characterization of acetyl-coenzyme A synthetase from Methanothrix soehngenii. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1989;171(10):5430-5435.
In Methanothrix soehngenii, acetate is activated to acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) by an acetyl-CoA synthetase. Cell extracts contained high activities of adenylate kinase and pyrophosphatase, but no activities of a pyrophosphate:AMP and pyrophosphate:ADP phosphotransferase, indicating that the activation of 1 acetate in Methanothrix requires 2 ATP. Acetyl-CoA synthetase was purified 22-fold in four steps to apparent homogeneity. The native molecular mass of the enzyme from M. soehngenii estimated by gel filtration was 148 kilodaltons (kDa). The enzyme was composed of two subunits with a molecular mass of 73 kDa in an alpha 2 oligomeric structure. The acetyl-CoA synthetase constituted up to 4% of the soluble cell protein. At the optimum pH of 8.5, the Vmax was 55 mumol of acetyl-CoA formed per min per mg of protein. Analysis of enzyme kinetic properties revealed a Km of 0.86 mM for acetate and 48 microM for coenzyme A. With varying amounts of ATP, weak sigmoidal kinetic was observed. The Hill plot gave a slope of 1.58 +/- 0.12, suggesting two interacting substrate sites for the ATP. The kinetic properties of the acetyl-CoA synthetase can explain the high affinity for acetate of Methanothrix soehngenii.
PMCID: PMC210380  PMID: 2571608
25.  High-molecular-weight protein 2 of Yersinia enterocolitica is homologous to AngR of Vibrio anguillarum and belongs to a family of proteins involved in nonribosomal peptide synthesis. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(17):5488-5504.
The iron-regulated irp2 gene is specific for the highly pathogenic Yersinia species and encodes high-molecular-weight protein 2 (HMWP2). Despite the established correlation between the presence of HMWP2 and virulence, the role of this protein is still unknown. To gain insight into the function of HMWP2, the entire coding sequence and the promoter of irp2 were sequenced. Two putative -35 and -10 promoter sequences were identified upstream of a large open reading frame, and two potential Fur-binding sites were found overlapping the second -35 box. The large open reading frame is composed of 6,126 nucleotides and may encode a protein of 2,035 amino acids (ca. 228 kDa) with a pI of 5.81. A signal sequence was not present at the N terminus of the protein. Despite the existence of 30 cysteine residues, carboxymethylation prevented the formation of most if not all disulfide bonds that otherwise occurred when the cells were sonicated. The protein was composed of three main domains: a central region of ca. 850 residues, bordered on each side by a repeat of 550 residues. A high degree of identity (44.5%) was found between HMWP2 and the protein AngR of Vibrio anguillarum. The central part of HMWP2 (after removal of a loop of 337 residues) also displayed significant homology with proteins belonging to the superfamily of adenylate-forming enzymes and, like them, possessed a putative ATP-binding motif that is also present in AngR. In addition, HMWP2 shared with the group of antibiotic and enterochelin synthetases a potential amino acid-binding site. Six consensus sequences defining the superfamily and four defining the family of synthetases were derived from the multiple alignment of the 30 sequences of proteins or repeated domains. A phylogenetic tree that was constructed showed that HMWP2 and AngR are in a family composed of Lys2, EntF, and the tyrocidine, gramicidin, and Beta-lactam synthetases. This finding suggests that HMWP2 may participate in the nonribosomal synthesis of small biologically active peptides.
PMCID: PMC206605  PMID: 8366034

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