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1.  Involvement of the β3-α3 loop of the Proline Dehydrogenase Domain in Allosteric Regulation of Membrane Association of Proline Utilization A†,‡ 
Biochemistry  2013;52(26):4482-4491.
Proline utilization A (PutA) from Escherichia coli is a membrane-associated trifunctional flavoenzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of proline to glutamate and moonlights as a transcriptional regulator. As a regulatory protein, PutA represses transcription of the put regulon, which contains the genes encoding PutA and the proline transporter PutP. The binding of proline to the proline dehydrogenase active site and the subsequent reduction of the flavin induces high affinity membrane association of PutA and relieves repression of the put regulon, thereby causing PutA to switch from its regulatory to its enzymatic role. Here, we present evidence suggesting that residues of the β3-α3 loop of the proline dehydrogenase domain (βα)8 barrel are involved in proline-mediated allosteric regulation of PutA-membrane binding. Mutation of the conserved residues Asp370 and Glu372 in the β3-α3 loop abrogates the ability of proline to induce functional membrane association. Both in vitro lipid/membrane binding assays and in vivo cell-based assays demonstrate that mutagenesis of Asp370 (D370N/A) or Glu372 (E372A) dramatically impedes PutA functional switching. The crystal structures of the proline dehydrogenase domain mutants PutA86-630D370N and PutA86-630D370A complexed with the proline analog L-tetrahydro-2-furoic acid show that the mutations cause only minor perturbations to the active site but no major structural changes, suggesting that the lack of proline response is not due to a failure of the mutated active sites to correctly bind the substrate. Rather, these results suggest that the β3-α3 loop may be involved in transmitting the status of the proline dehydrogenase active site and flavin redox state to the distal membrane association domain.
PMCID: PMC3731750  PMID: 23713611
2.  Proline dehydrogenase is essential for proline protection against hydrogen peroxide induced cell death 
Free radical biology & medicine  2012;53(5):1181-1191.
Proline metabolism has an underlying role in apoptotic signaling that impacts tumorigenesis. Proline is oxidized to glutamate in the mitochondria with the rate limiting step catalyzed by proline dehydrogenase (PRODH). PRODH expression is inducible by p53 leading to increased proline oxidation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, and induction of apoptosis. Paradoxical to its role in apoptosis, proline also protects cells against oxidative stress. Here we explore the mechanism of proline protection against hydrogen peroxide stress in melanoma WM35 cells. Treatment of WM35 cells with proline significantly increased cell viability, diminished oxidative damage of cellular lipids and proteins, and retained ATP and NADPH levels after exposure to hydrogen peroxide. Inhibition or siRNA-mediated knockdown of PRODH abolished proline protection against oxidative stress whereas knockdown of Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase, a key enzyme in proline biosynthesis, had no impact on proline protection. Potential linkages between proline metabolism and signaling pathways were explored. The combined inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 eliminated proline protection. A significant increase in Akt activation was observed in proline treated cells after hydrogen peroxide stress along with a corresponding increase in the phosphorylation of the fork head transcription factor class O3a (FoxO3a). The role of PRODH in proline mediated protection was validated in the prostate carcinoma cell line, PC3. Knockdown of PRODH in PC3 cells attenuated phosphorylated levels of Akt and FoxO3a and decreased cell survival during hydrogen peroxide stress. The results provide evidence that PRODH is essential in proline protection against hydrogen peroxide mediated cell death and that proline/PRODH helps activate Akt in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3432146  PMID: 22796327
Proline; proline dehydrogenase; oxidative stress; pyrroline-5-carboxylate reductase; Akt
3.  Crystal Structures and Kinetics of Monofunctional Proline Dehydrogenase Provide Insight into Substrate Recognition and Conformational Changes Associated With Flavin Reduction and Product Release 
Biochemistry  2012;51(50):10099-10108.
Proline dehydrogenase catalyzes the FAD-dependent oxidation of proline to Δ1- pyrroline-5-carboxylate, which is the first step of proline catabolism. Here, we report the structures of proline dehydrogenase from Deinococcus radiodurans in the oxidized state complexed with the proline analog L-tetrahydrofuroic acid and in the reduced state with the proline site vacant. The analog binds against the si face of the FAD isoalloxazine and is protected from bulk solvent by the α8 helix and the β1-α1 loop. The FAD ribityl chain adopts two conformations in the E-S complex, which is unprecedented for flavoenzymes. One of the conformations is novel for the PRODH superfamily and may contribute to the low substrate affinity of Deinococcus PRODH. Reduction of the crystalline enzyme-inhibitor complex causes profound structural changes, including 20° butterfly bending of the isoalloxazine, crankshaft rotation of the ribityl, shifting of α8 by 1.7 Å, reconfiguration of the β1-α1 loop, and rupture of the Arg291-Glu64 ion pair. These changes dramatically open the active site to facilitate product release and allow electron acceptors access to the reduced flavin. The structures suggest that the ion pair, which is conserved in the PRODH superfamily, functions as the active site gate. Mutagenesis of Glu64 to Ala decreases catalytic efficiency 27-fold, which demonstrates the importance of the gate. Mutation of Gly63 decreases efficiency 140-fold, which suggests that flexibility of the β1-α1 loop is essential for optimal catalysis. The large conformational changes that are required to form the E-S complex suggest that conformational selection plays a role in substrate recognition.
PMCID: PMC3525754  PMID: 23151026
4.  Rapid Reaction Kinetics of Proline Dehydrogenase in the Multifunctional Proline Utilization A Protein† 
Biochemistry  2011;51(1):511-520.
The multifunctional proline utilization A (PutA) flavoenzyme from Escherichia coli catalyzes the oxidation of proline to glutamate in two reaction steps using separate proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) and Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) dehydrogenase domains. Here, the kinetic mechanism of PRODH in PutA is studied by stopped-flow kinetics to determine microscopic rate constants for the proline:ubiquinone oxidoreductase mechanism. Stopped-flow data for proline reduction of the flavin cofactor (reductive half-reaction) and oxidation of reduced flavin by CoQ1 (oxidative half-reaction) were best-fit by a double exponential from which maximum observable rate constants and apparent equilibrium dissociation constants were determined. Flavin semiquinone was not observed in the reductive or oxidative reactions. Microscopic rate constants for steps in the reductive and oxidative half-reactions were obtained by globally fitting the stopped-flow data to a simulated mechanism that includes a chemical step followed by an isomerization event. A microscopic rate constant of 27.5 s−1 was determined for proline reduction of the flavin cofactor followed by an isomerization step of 2.2 s−1. The isomerization step is proposed to report on a previously identified flavin-dependent conformational change (Zhang, W. et al. (2007) Biochemistry 46, 483–491) that is important for PutA functional switching but is not kinetically relevant to the in vitro mechanism. Using CoQ1, a soluble analog of ubiquinone, a rate constant of 5.4 s−1 was obtained for the oxidation of flavin, thus indicating that this oxidative step is rate-limiting for kcat during catalytic turnover. Steady-state kinetic constants calculated from the microscopic rate constants agree with the experimental kcat and kcat/Km parameters.
PMCID: PMC3254707  PMID: 22148640
5.  Steady-State Kinetic Mechanism of the Proline:Ubiquinone Oxidoreductase Activity of Proline Utilization A (PutA) from Escherichia coli 
The multifunctional proline utilization A (PutA) flavoenzyme from Escherichia coli performs the oxidation of proline to glutamate in two catalytic steps using separate proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) and Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) dehydrogenase domains. In the first reaction, the oxidation of proline is coupled to the reduction of ubiquinone (CoQ) by the PRODH domain, which has a β8α8-barrel structure that is conserved in bacterial and eukaryotic PRODH enzymes. The structural requirements of the benzoquinone moiety were examined by steady-state kinetics using CoQ analogs. PutA displayed activity with all the analogs tested; the highest kcat/Km was obtained with CoQ2. The kinetic mechanism of the PRODH reaction was investigated use a variety of steady-state approaches. Initial velocity patterns measured using proline and CoQ1, combined with dead-end and product inhibition studies, suggested a two-site ping-pong mechanism for PutA. The kinetic parameters for PutA were not strongly influenced by solvent viscosity suggesting that diffusive steps do not significantly limit the overall reaction rate. In summary, the kinetic data reported here, along with analysis of the crystal structure data for the PRODH domain, suggest that the proline:ubiquinone oxidoreductase reaction of PutA occurs via a rapid equilibrium ping-pong mechanism with proline and ubiquinone binding at two distinct sites.
PMCID: PMC3223275  PMID: 22040654
PutA, proline metabolism; proline:ubiquinone oxidoreductase; proline dehydrogenase
6.  Role of apoptosis-inducing factor, proline dehydrogenase, and NADPH oxidase in apoptosis and oxidative stress 
Cell health and cytoskeleton  2012;2012(4):11-27.
Flavoproteins catalyze a variety of reactions utilizing flavin mononucleotide or flavin adenine dinucleotide as cofactors. The oxidoreductase properties of flavoenzymes implicate them in redox homeostasis, oxidative stress, and various cellular processes, including programmed cell death. Here we explore three critical flavoproteins involved in apoptosis and redox signaling, ie, apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), proline dehydrogenase, and NADPH oxidase. These proteins have diverse biochemical functions and influence apoptotic signaling by unique mechanisms. The role of AIF in apoptotic signaling is two-fold, with AIF changing intracellular location from the inner mitochondrial membrane space to the nucleus upon exposure of cells to apoptotic stimuli. In the mitochondria, AIF enhances mitochondrial bioenergetics and complex I activity/assembly to help maintain proper cellular redox homeostasis. After translocating to the nucleus, AIF forms a chromatin degrading complex with other proteins, such as cyclophilin A. AIF translocation from the mitochondria to the nucleus is triggered by oxidative stress, implicating AIF as a mitochondrial redox sensor. Proline dehydrogenase is a membrane-associated flavoenzyme in the mitochondrion that catalyzes the rate-limiting step of proline oxidation. Upregulation of proline dehydrogenase by the tumor suppressor, p53, leads to enhanced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species that induce the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. NADPH oxidases are a group of enzymes that generate reactive oxygen species for oxidative stress and signaling purposes. Upon activation, NADPH oxidase 2 generates a burst of superoxide in neutrophils that leads to killing of microbes during phagocytosis. NADPH oxidases also participate in redox signaling that involves hydrogen peroxide-mediated activation of different pathways regulating cell proliferation and cell death. Potential therapeutic strategies for each enzyme are also highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3351110  PMID: 22593641
apoptosis; flavoproteins; apoptosis-inducing factor; NADPH oxidase; proline dehydrogenase
7.  Flavin Redox Switching of Protein Functions 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(6):1079-1091.
Flavin cofactors impart remarkable catalytic diversity to enzymes, enabling them to participate in a broad array of biological processes. The properties of flavins also provide proteins with a versatile redox sensor that can be utilized for converting physiological signals such as cellular metabolism, light, and redox status into a unique functional output. The control of protein functions by the flavin redox state is important for transcriptional regulation, cell signaling pathways, and environmental adaptation. A significant number of proteins that have flavin redox switches are found in the Per-Arnt-Sim (PAS) domain family and include flavoproteins that act as photosensors and respond to changes in cellular redox conditions. Biochemical and structural studies of PAS domain flavoproteins have revealed key insights into how flavin redox changes are propagated to the surface of the protein and translated into a new functional output such as the binding of a target protein in a signaling pathway. Mechanistic details of proteins unrelated to the PAS domain are also emerging and provide novel examples of how the flavin redox state governs protein–membrane interactions in response to appropriate stimuli. Analysis of different flavin switch proteins reveals shared mechanistic themes for the regulation of protein structure and function by flavins. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1079–1091.
PMCID: PMC3113445  PMID: 21028987
8.  Structure of the Proline Utilization A Proline Dehydrogenase Domain Inactivated by N-propargylglycine Provides Insight into Conformational Changes Induced by Substrate Binding and Flavin Reduction†,‡ 
Biochemistry  2010;49(3):560-569.
Proline utilization A (PutA) from Escherichia coli is a flavoprotein that has mutually exclusive roles as a transcriptional repressor of the put regulon and a membrane-associated enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of proline to glutamate. Previous studies have shown that the binding of proline in the proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) active site and subsequent reduction of the FAD trigger global conformational changes that enhance PutA-membrane affinity. These events cause PutA to switch from its repressor to enzymatic role, but the mechanism by which this signal is propagated from the active site to the distal membrane-binding domain is largely unknown. Here, it is shown that N-propargylglycine irreversibly inactivates PutA by covalently linking the flavin N(5) atom to the ε-amino of Lys329. Furthermore, inactivation locks PutA into a conformation that may mimic the proline reduced, membrane-associated form. The 2.15 Å resolution structure of the inactivated PRODH domain suggests that the initial events involved in broadcasting the reduced flavin state to the distal membrane binding domain include major reorganization of the flavin ribityl chain, severe (35 degree) butterfly bending of the isoalloxazine ring, and disruption of an electrostatic network involving the flavin N(5), Arg431, and Asp370. The structure also provides information about conformational changes associated with substrate binding. This analysis suggests that the active site is incompletely assembled in the absence of the substrate, and the binding of proline draws together conserved residues in helix 8 and the β1-αl loop to complete the active site.
PMCID: PMC3727237  PMID: 19994913
9.  Structures of the Escherichia coli PutA proline dehydrogenase domain in complex with competitive inhibitors†,‡ 
Biochemistry  2004;43(39):12539-12548.
Proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) catalyzes the first step of proline catabolism, the flavin-dependent oxidation of proline to Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate. Here we present a structure-based study of the PRODH active site of the multifunctional E. coli Proline Utilization A (PutA) protein using X-ray crystallography, enzyme kinetic measurements, and site-directed mutagenesis. Structures of the PutA PRODH domain complexed with competitive inhibitors acetate (Ki = 30 mM), L-lactate (Ki = 1 mM), and L- tetrahydro-2-furoic acid (L-THFA, Ki = 0.2 mM) have been determined to high-resolution limits of 2.1-2.0 Å. The discovery of acetate as a competitive inhibitor suggests the carboxyl is the minimum functional group recognized by the active site, and the structures show how the enzyme exploits hydrogen bonding and non-polar interactions to optimize affinity for the substrate. The PRODH/L-THFA complex is the first structure of PRODH with a 5-membered ring proline analogue bound in the active site, and thus provides new insights into substrate recognition and the catalytic mechanism. The ring of L-THFA is nearly parallel to the middle ring of the FAD isoalloxazine, with the inhibitor C5 atom 3.3 Å from the FAD N5. This geometry suggests direct hydride transfer as a plausible mechanism. Mutation of conserved active site residue Leu432 to Pro caused a 5-fold decrease in kcat and a severe loss in thermostability. These changes are consistent with the location of Leu432 in the hydrophobic core near residues that directly contact FAD. Our results suggest that the molecular basis for increased plasma proline levels in schizophrenic subjects carrying the missense mutation L441P is due to decreased stability of human PRODH2.
PMCID: PMC3727243  PMID: 15449943
10.  Structure of the proline dehydrogenase domain of the multifunctional PutA flavoprotein 
Nature structural biology  2003;10(2):109-114.
The PutA flavoprotein from Escherichia coli plays multiple roles in proline catabolism by functioning as a membrane-associated bi-functional enzyme and a transcriptional repressor of the proline utilization genes, while the human homologue of the PutA proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) domain plays critical roles in p53-mediated apoptosis and schizophrenia. We report the crystal structure of a 669-residue truncated form of PutA that exhibits both PRODH and DNA-binding activities, which represents the first structure of a PutA protein and the first structure of a PRODH enzyme from any organism. The structure is a domain-swapped dimer with each subunit comprising three domains: a helical dimerization arm, a 120-residue domain containing a three-helix bundle similar to that found in the helix-turn-helix superfamily of DNA-binding proteins, and a beta/alpha barrel PRODH domain with bound lactate inhibitor. Analysis of the structure provides insight into the mechanism of proline oxidation to pyrroline-5-carboxylate, and functional studies of a mutant protein suggest the DNA-binding domain is located within the N-terminal 261 residues of E. coli PutA.
PMCID: PMC3727246  PMID: 12514740
11.  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
12.  Purification and Characterization of Put1p from Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the PUT1 and PUT2 genes are required for the conversion of proline to glutamate. The PUT1 gene encodes Put1p, a proline dehydrogenase (PRODH)1 enzyme localized in the mitochondrion. Put1p was expressed and purified from Escherichia coli and shown to have a UV-visible absorption spectrum that is typical of a bound flavin cofactor. A Km value of 36 mM proline and a kcat = 27 s−1 were determined for Put1p using an artificial electron acceptor. Put1p also exhibited high activity using ubiquinone-1 (CoQ1) as an electron acceptor with a kcat = 9.6 s−1 and a Km of 33 µM for CoQ1. In addition, knockout strains of the electron transfer flavoprotein (ETF) homolog in S. cerevisiae were able to grow on proline as the sole nitrogen source demonstrating that ETF is not required for proline utilization in yeast.
PMCID: PMC2880193  PMID: 20450881
proline metabolism; yeast; proline dehydrogenase; PUT1
13.  Pseudomonas syringae Catalases Are Collectively Required for Plant Pathogenesis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(18):5054-5064.
The bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 must detoxify plant-produced hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in order to survive in its host plant. Candidate enzymes for this detoxification include the monofunctional catalases KatB and KatE and the bifunctional catalase-peroxidase KatG of DC3000. This study shows that KatG is the major housekeeping catalase of DC3000 and provides protection against menadione-generated endogenous H2O2. In contrast, KatB rapidly and substantially accumulates in response to exogenous H2O2. Furthermore, KatB and KatG have nonredundant roles in detoxifying exogenous H2O2 and are required for full virulence of DC3000 in Arabidopsis thaliana. Therefore, the nonredundant ability of KatB and KatG to detoxify plant-produced H2O2 is essential for the bacteria to survive in plants. Indeed, a DC3000 catalase triple mutant is severely compromised in its ability to grow in planta, and its growth can be partially rescued by the expression of katB, katE, or katG. Interestingly, our data demonstrate that although KatB and KatG are the major catalases involved in the virulence of DC3000, KatE can also provide some protection in planta. Thus, our results indicate that these catalases are virulence factors for DC3000 and are collectively required for pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3430309  PMID: 22797762
14.  Substrate channeling in proline metabolism 
Proline metabolism is an important pathway that has relevance in several cellular functions such as redox balance, apoptosis, and cell survival. Results from different groups have indicated that substrate channeling of proline metabolic intermediates may be a critical mechanism. One intermediate is pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C), which upon hydrolysis opens to glutamic semialdehyde (GSA). Recent structural and kinetic evidence indicate substrate channeling of P5C/GSA occurs in the proline catabolic pathway between the proline dehydrogenase and P5C dehydrogenase active sites of bifunctional proline utilization A (PutA). Substrate channeling in PutA is proposed to facilitate the hydrolysis of P5C to GSA which is unfavorable at physiological pH. The second intermediate, gamma-glutamyl phosphate, is part of the proline biosynthetic pathway and is extremely labile. Substrate channeling of gamma-glutamyl phosphate is thought to be necessary to protect it from bulk solvent. Because of the unfavorable equilibrium of P5C/GSA and the reactivity of gamma-glutamyl phosphate, substrate channeling likely improves the efficiency of proline metabolism. Here, we outline general strategies for testing substrate channeling and review the evidence for channeling in proline metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3342669  PMID: 22201749
Substrate Channeling; Proline Metabolism; Proline Dehydrogenase; PRODH; Pyrroline-5-carboxylate Dehydrogenase; P5CDH; Pyrroline-5-Carboxylate; P5C; Glutamic semialdehyde; GSA; Gamma-Glutamyl Kinase; Gamma-Glutamyl Phosphate Reductase; Pyrroline-5-Carboxylate Synthase; P5CS; Gamma-Glutamyl Phosphate; Review
15.  Redox induced changes in flavin structure and the roles of the flavin N(5) and ribityl 2′-OH in regulating PutA-membrane binding† 
Biochemistry  2007;46(2):483-491.
PutA is a novel flavoprotein in Escherichia coli that switches from a transcriptional repressor to a membrane-bound proline catabolic enzyme. Previous crystallographic studies of the PutA proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) domain under oxidizing conditions revealed that the FAD N(5) and ribityl 2′- OH form hydrogen bonds with Arg431 and Arg556, respectively. Here we identify molecular interactions in the PutA PRODH active site that underlie redox-dependent functional switching of PutA. We report that reduction of the PRODH domain induces major structural changes in the FAD cofactor, including a 22° bend of the isoalloxazine ring along the N(5)-N(10) axis, crankshaft rotation of the upper part of the ribityl chain, and formation of a new hydrogen bond network involving the ribityl 2′- OH, FAD N(1) atom, and Gly435. The roles of the FAD 2′-OH group and the FAD N(5)-Arg431 hydrogen bond pair in regulating redox-dependent PutA-membrane associations were tested using FAD analogues and site-directed mutagenesis. Kinetic membrane-binding measurements and cell-based reporter gene assays of modified PutA proteins show that disrupting the FAD N(5)-Arg431 interaction impairs reductive activation of PutA-membrane binding. We also show that the FAD-2′-OH acts as a redox-sensitive toggle switch that controls PutA-membrane binding. These results illustrate a new versatility of the ribityl chain in flavoprotein mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2527739  PMID: 17209558
16.  Regulation of PutA-Membrane Associations by FAD Reduction † 
Biochemistry  2004;43(41):13165-13174.
Proline utilization A (PutA) from Escherichia coli is a multifunctional flavoprotein that is both a transcriptional repressor of the proline utilization (put) genes and a membrane-associated enzyme which catalyzes the 4e- oxidation of proline to glutamate. Previously, proline was shown to induce PutA-membrane binding and alter the intracellular location and function of PutA. To distinguish the roles of substrate binding and FAD reduction in the mechanism of how PutA changes from a DNA-binding protein to a membrane-bound enzyme, the kinetic parameters of PutA-membrane binding were measured under different conditions using model lipid bilayers and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). The effects of proline, FAD reduction, and proline analogues on PutA-membrane associations were determined. Oxidized PutA shows no binding to E. coli polar lipid vesicles. In contrast, proline and sodium dithionite induce tight binding of PutA to the lipid bilayer with indistinguishable kinetic parameters and an estimated dissociation constant (KD) of < 0.01 nM (pH 7.4) for the reduced PutA-lipid complex. Proline analogues such as L-THFA and DL-P5C also stimulate PutA binding to E. coli polar lipid vesicles with KD values ranging from about 3.6 – 34 nM (pH 7.4) for the PutA-lipid complex. The greater PutA-membrane binding affinity (> 300-fold) generated by FAD reduction relative to the nonreducing ligands demonstrates that FAD reduction controls PutA-membrane associations. On the basis of SPR kinetic analysis with differently charged lipid bilayers, the driving force for PutA-membrane binding is primarily hydrophobic. In the SPR experiments membrane-bound PutA did not bind put control DNA confirming that the membrane-binding and DNA-binding activities of PutA are mutually exclusive. A model for the regulation of PutA is described in which the overall translocation of PutA from the cytoplasm to the membrane is driven by FAD reduction and the subsequent energy difference (∼ 24 kJ/mol) between PutA-membrane and PutA-DNA binding.
PMCID: PMC1513155  PMID: 15476410
17.  Characterization of a Bifunctional PutA Homologue from Bradyrhizobium japonicum and Identification of an Active Site Residue that Modulates Proline Reduction of the Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide Cofactor † 
Biochemistry  2005;44(25):9130-9139.
PutA is a bifunctional flavoenzyme in bacteria that catalyzes the four-electron oxidation of proline to glutamate. In certain prokaryotes such as Escherichia coli, PutA is also a transcriptional repressor of the proline utilization (put) genes and thus is trifunctional. In this work, we have begun to assess differences between bifunctional and trifunctional PutA enzymes by examining the PutA protein from Bradyrhizobium japonicum (BjPutA). Primary structure analysis of BjPutA shows it lacks the DNA-binding domain of E. coli PutA (EcPutA). Consistent with this prediction, purified BjPutA does not exhibit DNA-binding activity in native gel mobility shift assays with promoter regions of the putA gene from B. japonicum. The catalytic and redox properties of BjPutA were characterized and a reduction potential (Em) value of −0.132 V (pH 7.5) was determined for the bound FAD/FADH2 couple in BjPutA that is significantly more negative (∼ 55 mV) than the Em for EcPutA-bound FAD. The more negative Em value thermodynamically limits proline reduction of the FAD cofactor in BjPutA. In the presence of phospholipids, reduction of BjPutA is stimulated suggesting lipids influence the FAD redox environment. Accordingly, an Em value of −-0.114 V (pH 7.5) was determined for BjPutA-bound FAD in the presence of polar lipids. The molecular basis for the lower reduction potential of FAD in BjPutA relative to EcPutA was explored by site-directed mutagenesis. Amino acid sequence alignment between BjPutA and EcPutA indicates only one difference in active site residues near the isoalloxazine ring of FAD: Val-402 in EcPutA is substituted at the analogous position in BjPutA with Ala-310. Replacement of A310 by Val in the BjPutA mutant A310V raised the reduction potential of bound FAD relative to wild-type BjPutA to an Em value of −0.09 V (pH 7.5). The > 40-mV positive shift in the potential of the BjPutA mutant A310V suggests that the corresponding Val residue in EcPutA helps poise the FAD redox potential for thermodynamically favored proline reduction thereby allowing EcPutA to be efficiently regulated by proline availability. Limited proteolysis of BjPutA under reducing conditions shows FAD reduction does not influence BjPutA conformation indicating further that the redox dependent regulation observed with EcPutA may be limited to trifunctional PutA homologues.
PMCID: PMC1352339  PMID: 15966737
18.  Identification and Characterization of the DNA-binding Domain of the Multifunctional PutA Flavoenzyme* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2004;279(30):31171-31176.
The PutA flavoprotein from Escherichia coli is a transcriptional repressor and a bifunctional enzyme that regulates and catalyzes proline oxidation. PutA represses transcription of genes putA and putP by binding to the control DNA region of the put regulon. The objective of this study is to define and characterize the DNA binding domain of PutA. Previously, the DNA binding activity of PutA, a 1320 amino acid polypeptide, was localized to N-terminal residues 1-261. After exploring a potential DNA-binding region and an N-terminal deletion mutant of PutA, residues 1-90 (PutA90) were determined to contain DNA binding activity and stabilize the dimeric structure of PutA. Cell-based transcriptional assays demonstrate that PutA90 functions as a transcriptional repressor in vivo. The dissociation constant of PutA90 with the put control DNA was estimated to be 110 nM, which is slightly higher than that of the PutA-DNA complex (Kd ∼ 45 nM). Primary and secondary structure analysis of PutA90 suggested the presence of a ribbon-helix-helix DNA binding motif in residues 1-47. To test this prediction, we purified and characterized PutA47. PutA47 is shown to purify as an apparent dimer, exhibit in vivo transcriptional activity and bind specifically to the put control DNA. In gel-mobility shift assays, PutA47 was observed to bind cooperatively to the put control DNA with an overall dissociation constant of 15 nM for the PutA47-DNA complex. Thus, N-terminal residues 1-47 are critical for DNA-binding and the dimeric structure of PutA. These results are consistent with the ribbon-helix-helix family of transcription factors which are comprised of a two-stranded antiparallel β-sheet that recognizes DNA and a dimeric core of four α-helices.
PMCID: PMC1390768  PMID: 15155740
19.  Solution Structure of the Pseudomonas putida protein PpPutA45 and its DNA Complex 
Proteins  2009;75(1):12-27.
Proline utilization A (PutA) is a membrane associated multifunctional enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of proline to glutamate in a two step process. In certain Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas putida, PutA also acts as an auto repressor in the cytoplasm when an insufficient concentration of proline is available. Here the N-terminal residues 1–45 of PutA from P. putida (PpPutA45), are shown to be responsible for DNA binding and dimerization. The solution structure of PpPutA45 was determined using NMR methods, where the protein is shown to be a symmetrical homodimer (12 kDa) consisting of two ribbon-helix-helix (RHH) structures. DNA sequence recognition by PpPutA45 was determined using DNA gel mobility shift assays and NMR chemical shift perturbations. PpPutA45 was shown to bind a 14 base-pair DNA oligomer (5′-GCGGTTGCACCTTT-3′). A model of the PpPutA45-DNA oligomer complex was generated using Haddock 2.1. The antiparallel β-sheet that results from PpPutA45 dimerization serves as the DNA recognition binding site by inserting into the DNA major groove. The dimeric core of four α-helices provides a structural scaffold for the β-sheet from which residues Thr5, Gly7, and Lys9 make sequence specific contacts with the DNA. The structural model implies flexibility of Lys9 which can either make hydrogen bond contacts with guanine or thymine. The high sequence and structure conservation of the PutA RHH domain suggest interdomain interactions play an important role in the evolution of the protein.
PMCID: PMC2650008  PMID: 18767154
Pseudomonas putida; NMR solution structure; PutA; ribbon-helix-helix (RHH) structures; PutA-DNA complex
20.  Direct linking of metabolism and gene expression in the proline utilization A protein from Escherichia coli 
Amino acids  2008;35(4):711-718.
The control of gene expression by enzymes provides a direct pathway for cells to respond to fluctuations in metabolites and nutrients. One example is the proline utilization A (PutA) protein from Escherichia coli. PutA is a membrane-associated enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of L-proline to glutamate using a flavin containing proline dehydrogenase domain and a NAD+ dependent Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase domain. In some Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli, PutA is also endowed with a ribbon-helix-helix DNA-binding domain and acts as a transcriptional repressor of the proline utilization genes. PutA switches between transcriptional repressor and enzymatic functions in response to proline availability. Molecular insights into the redox based mechanism of PutA functional switching from recent studies are reviewed. In addition, new results from cell-based transcription assays are presented which correlate PutA membrane localization with put gene expression levels. General membrane localization of PutA, however, is not sufficient to activate the put genes.
PMCID: PMC2666929  PMID: 18324349
PutA; transcriptional regulation; membrane-binding; proline utilization; DNA-binding; multifunctional enzyme
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(19):14316-14327.
Proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) and Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase (P5CDH) catalyze the two-step oxidation of proline to glutamate. They are distinct monofunctional enzymes in all eukaryotes and some bacteria, but are fused into bifunctional enzymes known as Proline utilization A (PutA) in other bacteria. Here we report the first structure and biochemical data for a monofunctional PRODH. The 2.0 Å resolution structure of Thermus thermophilus PRODH reveals a distorted (βα)8 barrel catalytic core domain and a hydrophobic α-helical domain located above the carboxyl terminal ends of the strands of the barrel. Although the catalytic core is similar to that of the PutA PRODH domain, the FAD conformation of T. thermophilus PRODH is remarkably different and likely reflects unique requirements for membrane association and communication with P5CDH. Also, the FAD of T. thermophilus PRODH is highly solvent exposed compared to PutA due to a 4-Å shift of helix 8. Structure-based sequence analysis of the PutA/PRODH family led us to identify 9 conserved motifs involved in cofactor and substrate recognition. Biochemical studies show that the midpoint potential of the FAD is −75 mV and the kinetic parameters for proline are Km=27 mM and kcat=13 s−1. 3,4-dehydro-L-proline was found to be an efficient substrate and L-tetrahydro-2-furoic acid is a competitive inhibitor (KI=1.0 mM). Finally, we demonstrate that T. thermophilus PRODH reacts with O2 producing superoxide. This is significant because superoxide production underlies the role of human PRODH in p53-mediated apoptosis, implying commonalities between eukaryotic and bacterial monofunctional PRODHs.
PMCID: PMC2708979  PMID: 17344208
22.  Structural Basis of Transcriptional Regulation of the Proline Utilization Regulon by Multifunctional PutA 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;381(1):174-188.
The multifunctional Escherichia coli PutA flavoprotein functions as both a membrane-associated proline catabolic enzyme and transcriptional repressor of the proline utilization genes putA and putP. To better understand the mechanism of transcriptional regulation by PutA, we have mapped the put regulatory region, determined a crystal structure of the PutA ribbon-helix-helix domain (PutA52) complexed with DNA and examined the thermodynamics of DNA binding to PutA52. Five operator sites, each containing the sequence motif 5′-GTTGCA-3′, were identified using gel-shift analysis. Three of the sites are shown to be critical for repression of putA, whereas the two other sites are important for repression of putP. The 2.25 Å resolution crystal structure of PutA52 bound to one of the operators (operator 2, 21-bp) shows that the protein contacts a 9-bp fragment, corresponding to the GTTGCA consensus motif plus three flanking base pairs. Since the operator sequences differ in flanking bases, the structure implies that PutA may have different affinities for the five operators. This hypothesis was explored using isothermal titration calorimetry. The binding of PutA52 to operator 2 is exothermic with an enthalpy of −1.8 kcal/mol and a dissociation constant of 210 nM. Substitution of the flanking bases of operator 4 into operator 2 results in an unfavorable enthalpy of 0.2 kcal/mol and 15-fold lower affinity, which shows that base pairs outside of the consensus motif impact binding. The structural and thermodynamic data suggest that hydrogen bonds between Lys9 and bases adjacent to the GTTGCA motif contribute to transcriptional regulation by fine-tuning the affinity of PutA for put control operators.
PMCID: PMC2665032  PMID: 18586269
proline utilization A; X-ray crystallography; isothermal titration calorimetry; ribbon-helix-helix; proline catabolism
23.  Proline modulates the intracellular redox environment and protects mammalian cells against oxidative stress 
Free radical biology & medicine  2007;44(4):671-681.
The potential of proline to suppress reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptosis in mammalian cells was tested by manipulating intracellular proline levels exogenously and endogenously by overexpression of proline metabolic enzymes. Proline was observed to protect cells against H2O2, tert-butyl hydroperoxide and a carcinogenic oxidative stress inducer but was not effective against superoxide generators such as menadione. Oxidative stress protection by proline requires the secondary amine of the pyrrolidine ring and involves preservation of the glutathione redox environment. Overexpression of proline dehydrogenase (PRODH), a mitochondrial flavoenzyme that oxidizes proline, resulted in 6-fold lower intracellular proline content and decreased cell survival relative to control cells. Cells overexpressing PRODH were rescued by pipecolate, an analog that mimics the antioxidant properties of proline, and by tetrahydro-2-furoic acid, a specific inhibitor of PRODH. In contrast, overexpression of the proline biosynthetic enzymes Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C) synthetase (P5CS) and P5C reductase (P5CR) resulted in 2-fold higher proline content, significantly lower ROS levels and increased cell survival relative to control cells. In different mammalian cell lines exposed to physiological H2O2 levels, increased endogenous P5CS and P5CR expression was observed indicating upregulation of proline biosynthesis is an oxidative stress response.
PMCID: PMC2268104  PMID: 18036351
proline; proline oxidation; proline biosynthesis; reactive oxygen species (ROS); oxidative stress protection
24.  Characterization of a Helicobacter hepaticus putA Mutant Strain in Host Colonization and Oxidative Stress ▿ †  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(7):3037-3044.
Helicobacter hepaticus is a gram-negative, spiral-shaped microaerophilic bacterium associated with chronic intestinal infection leading to hepatitis and colonic and hepatic carcinomas in susceptible strains of mice. In the closely related human pathogen Helicobacter pylori, l-proline is a preferred respiratory substrate and is found at significantly high levels in the gastric juice of infected patients. A previous study of the proline catabolic PutA flavoenzymes from H. pylori and H. hepaticus revealed that Helicobacter PutA generates reactive oxygen species during proline oxidation by transferring electrons from reduced flavin to molecular oxygen. We further explored the preference for proline as a respiratory substrate and the potential impact of proline metabolism on the redox environment in Helicobacter species during host infection by disrupting the putA gene in H. hepaticus. The resulting putA knockout mutant strain was characterized by oxidative stress analysis and mouse infection studies. The putA mutant strain of H. hepaticus exhibited increased proline levels and resistance to oxidative stress relative to that of the wild-type strain, consistent with proline's role as an antioxidant. The significant increase in stress resistance was attributed to higher proline content, as no upregulation of antioxidant genes was observed for the putA mutant strain. The wild-type and putA mutant H. hepaticus strains displayed similar levels of infection in mice, but in mice challenged with the putA mutant strain, significantly reduced inflammation was observed, suggesting a role for proline metabolism in H. hepaticus pathogenicity in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2446744  PMID: 18458068
25.  Tomato QM-Like Protein Protects Saccharomyces cerevisiae Cells against Oxidative Stress by Regulating Intracellular Proline Levels 
Exogenous proline can protect cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae from oxidative stress. We altered intracellular proline levels by overexpressing the proline dehydrogenase gene (PUT1) of S. cerevisiae. Put1p performs the first enzymatic step of proline degradation in S. cerevisiae. Overexpression of Put1p results in low proline levels and hypersensitivity to oxidants, such as hydrogen peroxide and paraquat. A put1-disrupted yeast mutant deficient in Put1p activity has increased protection from oxidative stress and increased proline levels. Following a conditional life/death screen in yeast, we identified a tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) gene encoding a QM-like protein (tQM) and found that stable expression of tQM in the Put1p-overexpressing strain conferred protection against oxidative damage from H2O2, paraquat, and heat. This protection was correlated with reactive oxygen species (ROS) reduction and increased proline accumulation. A yeast two-hybrid system assay was used to show that tQM physically interacts with Put1p in yeast, suggesting that tQM is directly involved in modulating proline levels. tQM also can rescue yeast from the lethality mediated by the mammalian proapoptotic protein Bax, through the inhibition of ROS generation. Our results suggest that tQM is a component of various stress response pathways and may function in proline-mediated stress tolerance in plants.
PMCID: PMC1489650  PMID: 16751508

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