Salmonella enterica is an opportunistic pathogen that produces a [NiFe]-hydrogenase under aerobic conditions. In the present study, genetic engineering approaches were used to facilitate isolation of this enzyme, termed Hyd-5. The crystal structure was determined to a resolution of 3.2 Å and the hydro-genase was observed to comprise associated large and small subunits. The structure indicated that His229 from the large subunit was close to the proximal [4Fe–3S] cluster in the small subunit. In addition, His229 was observed to lie close to a buried glutamic acid (Glu73), which is conserved in oxygen-tolerant hydrogenases. His229 and Glu73 of the Hyd-5 large subunit were found to be important in both hydrogen oxidation activity and the oxygen-tolerance mechanism. Substitution of His229 or Glu73 with alanine led to a loss in the ability of Hyd-5 to oxidize hydrogen in air. Furthermore, the H229A variant was found to have lost the overpotential requirement for activity that is always observed with oxygen-tolerant [NiFe]-hydrogenases. It is possible that His229 has a role in stabilizing the super-oxidized form of the proximal cluster in the presence of oxygen, and it is proposed that Glu73could play a supporting role in fine-tuning the chemistry of His229 to enable this function.
A hydrogenase consists of two subunits: a large and a small subunit. In the present study, amino acids from the large subunit were found to influence a cofactor in the small subunit, such that they help to confer oxygen-tolerance to the enzyme.
hydrogen metabolism; iron–sulphur cluster [NiFe]-hydrogenase; oxygen-tolerance; protein film electrochemistry (PFE); Salmonella enterica; BV, Benzyl Viologen; IMAC, immobilized metal-ion-affinity chromatography; PFE, protein film electrochemistry; scc, standard cubic cm; SHE, standard H2 electrode; TM, transmembrane domain
2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate synthase (IspF) catalyzes the conversion of 4-diphosphocytidyl-2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2-phosphate to 2C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate and cytidine monophosphate in production of isoprenoid-precursors via the methylerythritol phosphate biosynthetic pathway. IspF is found in the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes cerebral malaria, as well as in many Gram-negative bacteria such as Burkholderia cenocepacia. IspF represents a potential target for development of broad-spectrum antimicrobial drugs since it is proven or inferred as essential in these pathogens and absent from mammals. Structural studies of IspF from these two important yet distinct pathogens, and comparisons with orthologues have been carried out to generate reagents, to support and inform a structure-based approach to early stage drug discovery.
Efficient recombinant protein production and crystallization protocols were developed, and high-resolution crystal structures of IspF from P. falciparum (Emphasis/Emphasis>IspF) and B. cenocepacia (BcIspF) in complex with cytidine nucleotides determined. Comparisons with orthologues, indicate a high degree of order and conservation in parts of the active site where Zn2+ is bound and where recognition of the cytidine moiety of substrate occurs. However, conformational flexibility is noted in that area of the active site responsible for binding the methylerythritol component of substrate. Unexpectedly, one structure of BcIspF revealed two molecules of cytidine monophosphate in the active site, and another identified citrate coordinating to the catalytic Zn2+. In both cases interactions with ligands appear to help order a flexible loop at one side of the active site. Difficulties were encountered when attempting to derive complex structures with other ligands.
High-resolution crystal structures of IspF from two important human pathogens have been obtained and compared to orthologues. The studies reveal new data on ligand binding, with citrate coordinating to the active site Zn2+ and when present in high concentrations cytidine monophosphate displays two binding modes in the active site. Ligand binding appears to order a part of the active site involved in substrate recognition. The high degree of structural conservation in and around the IspF active site suggests that any structural model might be suitable to support a program of structure-based drug discovery.
Antimicrobial drug target; Isoprenoid biosynthesis; X-ray crystallography; Zn2+-dependent enzyme
The thiamine diphosphate (ThDP) and metal-ion-dependent enzyme 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase, or MenD, catalyze the Stetter-like conjugate addition of α-ketoglutarate with isochorismate to release 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate and carbon dioxide. This reaction represents the first committed step for biosynthesis of menaquinone, or vitamin K2, a key cofactor for electron transport in bacteria and a metabolite for posttranslational modification of proteins in mammals. The medium-resolution structure of MenD from Escherichia coli (EcMenD) in complex with its cofactor and Mn2+ has been determined in two related hexagonal crystal forms. The subunit displays the typical three-domain structure observed for ThDP-dependent enzymes in which two of the domains bind and force the cofactor into a configuration that supports formation of a reactive ylide. The structures reveal a stable dimer-of-dimers association in agreement with gel filtration and analytical ultracentrifugation studies and confirm the classification of MenD in the pyruvate oxidase family of ThDP-dependent enzymes. The active site, created by contributions from a pair of subunits, is highly basic with a pronounced hydrophobic patch. These features, formed by highly conserved amino acids, match well to the chemical properties of the substrates. A model of the covalent intermediate formed after reaction with the first substrate α-ketoglutarate and with the second substrate isochorismate positioned to accept nucleophilic attack has been prepared. This, in addition to structural and sequence comparisons with putative MenD orthologues, provides insight into the specificity and reactivity of MenD and allows a two-stage reaction mechanism to be proposed.
crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; menaquinone biosynthesis; thiamine diphosphate cofactor
The membrane-bound EssB is an integral and essential component of the bacterial type VII secretion system that can contribute to pathogenicity. The architecture of Geobacillus thermodenitrificans EssB has been investigated by combining crystallographic and EPR spectroscopic methods. The protein forms a dimer that straddles the cytoplasmic membrane. A helical fold is observed for the C-terminal segment, which is positioned on the exterior of the membrane. This segment contributes most to dimer formation. The N-terminal segment displays a structure related to the pseudokinase fold and may contribute to function by recognizing substrates or secretion system partners. The remaining part of EssB may serve as an anchor point for the secretion apparatus, which is embedded in the cytoplasmic membrane with the C-terminal domain protruding out to interact with partner proteins or components of peptidoglycan.
► EssB, a membrane-bound component of the type VII secretion system, forms a dimer ► The cytoplasmic segment EssB-N is remarkably similar to pseudokinases ► The extracellular C-terminal domain displays a helical fold ► PELDOR spectroscopy enabled construction of a model of the complete dimer
The architecture of EssB, an essential component of the type VII secretion system, derived from crystallographic and EPR methods by Zoltner et al., reveals a few surprises: a protein that forms a dimer, an extracellular domain with a novel helical fold, and a cytoplasmic segment with remarkable similarity to pseudokinases.
The Type VII protein translocation/secretion system, unique to Gram-positive bacteria, is a key virulence determinant in Staphylococcus aureus. We aim to characterize the architecture of this secretion machinery and now describe the present study of S. aureus EssB, a 52 kDa bitopic membrane protein essential for secretion of the ESAT-6 (early secretory antigenic target of 6 kDa) family of proteins, the prototypic substrate of Type VII secretion. Full-length EssB was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli, solubilized from the bacterial membrane, purified to homogeneity and shown to be dimeric. A C-terminal truncation, EssB∆C, and two soluble fragments termed EssB-N and EssB-C, predicted to occur on either side of the cytoplasmic membrane, have been successfully purified in a recombinant form, characterized and, together with the full-length protein, used in crystallization trials. EssB-N, the 25 kDa N-terminal cytoplasmic fragment, gave well-ordered crystals and we report the structure, determined by SAD (single-wavelength anomalous diffraction) targeting an SeMet (selenomethionine) derivative, refined to atomic (1.05 Å; 1 Å=0.1 nm) resolution. EssB-N is dimeric in solution, but crystallizes as a monomer and displays a fold comprised of two globular domains separated by a cleft. The structure is related to that of serine/threonine protein kinases and the present study identifies that the Type VII secretion system exploits and re-uses a stable modular entity and fold that has evolved to participate in protein–protein interactions in a similar fashion to the catalytically inert pseudokinases.
early secretory antigenic target of 6 kDa system 1 (ESX-1); Gram-positive bacterium; protein kinase; protein secretion; pseudokinase; X-ray crystallography; BAP, biotin-acceptor peptide; BCG, Bacille Calmette–Guérin; BN-PAGE, Blue native PAGE; CV, column volume; DDM, dodecyl maltoside; DOPC, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DTT, dithiothreitol; ESAT-6, early secreted antigenic target of 6 kDa; ESI–Q–TOF-MS, electrospray ionization–quadrupole–time-of-flight MS; ESX-1, ESAT-6 system 1; ess, ESX-1 secretion system; IPTG, isopropyl-β-D-thiogalactopyranoside; LB, Luria–Bertani; MALDI–TOF-MS, matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization–time-of-flight MS; MWCO, molecular-mass cut-off; PEG3350, poly(ethylene glycol) 3350; rmsd, root-mean-square deviation; SAD, single-wavelength anomalous diffraction; SeMet, selenomethionine; SPR, surface plasmon resonance; TEV, tobacco etch virus; T7SS, Type VII secretion system
drug; enzyme; mechanism; tuberculosis
Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis depends on a specialized protein secretion system, ESX-1, that delivers a range of virulence factors to assist infectivity. We report the characterization of two such factors, EsxA and EsxB; small acidic dimeric proteins carrying a distinctive WXG motif. EsxA crystallized in triclinic and monoclinic forms and high-resolution structures were determined. The asymmetric unit of each crystal form is a dimer. The EsxA subunit forms an elongated cylindrical structure created from side-by-side α-helices linked with a hairpin bend formed by the WXG motif. Approximately 25% of the solvent accessible surface area of each subunit is involved in interactions, predominantly hydrophobic, with the partner subunit. Secondary structure predictions suggest that EsxB displays a similar structure. The WXG motif helps to create a shallow cleft at each end of the dimer, forming a short β-sheet-like feature with an N-terminal segment of the partner subunit. Structural and sequence comparisons, exploiting biological data on related proteins found in Mycobacteria tuberculosis suggest that this family of proteins may contribute to pathogenesis by transporting protein cargo through the ESX-1 system exploiting a C-terminal secretion signal and / or are capable of acting as adaptor proteins to facilitate interactions with host receptor proteins.
adaptor protein; chaperone; helical bundle; secretion system; virulence factor
A crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase, which is a pyridoxyl phosphate-dependent enzyme, is reported. The structure was determined to 1.8 Å resolution and revealed that the cofactor has been lost and that a fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a crystallization ingredient, was bound in the active site. The enzyme was inhibited by peptides.
Cysteine biosynthesis is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Leishmania species; these protozoa are responsible for a range of serious diseases. To improve understanding of this aspect of Leishmania biology, a crystallographic and biochemical study of L. major cysteine synthase has been undertaken, seeking to understand its structure, enzyme activity and modes of inhibition. Active enzyme was purified, assayed and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with a dimer in the asymmetric unit. Diffraction data extending to 1.8 Å resolution were measured and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. A fragment of γ-poly-d-glutamic acid, a constituent of the crystallization mixture, was bound in the enzyme active site. Although a d-glutamate tetrapeptide had insignificant inhibitory activity, the enzyme was competitively inhibited (K
i = 4 µM) by DYVI, a peptide based on the C-terminus of the partner serine acetyltransferase with which the enzyme forms a complex. The structure surprisingly revealed that the cofactor pyridoxal phosphate had been lost during crystallization.
Arabidopsis thaliana; cysteine synthase; Leishmania major
MenH (2-succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase) is a key enzyme in the biosynthesis of menaquinone, catalyzing an unusual 2,5-elimination of pyruvate from 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate.
The crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus MenH has been determined at 2 Å resolution. In the absence of a complex to inform on aspects of specificity a model of the enzyme-substrate complex has been used in conjunction with previously published kinetic analyses, site-directed mutagenesis studies and comparisons with orthologues to investigate the structure and reactivity of MenH.
The overall basic active site displays pronounced hydrophobic character on one side and these properties complement those of the substrate. A complex network of hydrogen bonds involving well-ordered water molecules serves to position key residues participating in the recognition of substrate and subsequent catalysis. We propose a proton shuttle mechanism, reliant on a catalytic triad consisting of Ser89, Asp216 and His243. The reaction is initiated by proton abstraction from the substrate by an activated Ser89. The propensity to form a conjugated system provides the driving force for pyruvate elimination. During the elimination, a methylene group is converted to a methyl and we judge it likely that His243 provides a proton, previously acquired from Ser89 for that reduction. A conformational change of the protonated His243 may be encouraged by the presence of an anionic intermediate in the active site.
The structure of L. donovani pteridine reductase has been targeted to assist in a program of structure-based inhibitor research. Crystals that diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution were obtained and the structure has been solved. Unfortunately, the active site is disordered and this crystal form is unsuitable for use in characterizing enzyme–ligand interactions.
Pteridine reductase (PTR1) is a potential target for drug development against parasitic Trypanosoma and Leishmania species, protozoa that are responsible for a range of serious diseases found in tropical and subtropical parts of the world. As part of a structure-based approach to inhibitor development, specifically targeting Leishmania species, well ordered crystals of L. donovani PTR1 were sought to support the characterization of complexes formed with inhibitors. An efficient system for recombinant protein production was prepared and the enzyme was purified and crystallized in an orthorhombic form with ammonium sulfate as the precipitant. Diffraction data were measured to 2.5 Å resolution and the structure was solved by molecular replacement. However, a sulfate occupies a phosphate-binding site used by NADPH and occludes cofactor binding. The nicotinamide moiety is a critical component of the active site and without it this part of the structure is disordered. The crystal form obtained under these conditions is therefore unsuitable for the characterization of inhibitor complexes.
antifolates; pteridine reductase; Leishmania; pterins; Trypanosoma
The first committed step in the classical biosynthetic route to menaquinone (vitamin K2) is a Stetter-like conjugate addition of α-ketoglutarate with isochorismate. This reaction is catalyzed by the thiamine diphosphate and metal-ion-dependent 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate synthase (MenD). The medium-resolution (2.35 Å) crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis MenD with cofactor and Mn2+ has been determined. Based on structure–sequence comparisons and modeling, a two-stage mechanism that is primarily driven by the chemical properties of the cofactor is proposed. Hypotheses for the molecular determinants of substrate recognition were formulated. Five basic residues (Arg32, Arg106, Arg409, Arg428, and Lys299) are postulated to interact with carboxylate and hydroxyl groups to align substrates for catalysis in combination with a cluster of non-polar residues (Ile489, Phe490, and Leu493) on one side of the active site. The powerful combination of site-directed mutagenesis, where each of the eight residues is replaced by alanine, and steady-state kinetic measurements has been exploited to address these hypotheses. Arg409 plays a significant role in binding both substrates while Arg428 contributes mainly to binding of α-ketoglutarate. Arg32 and in particular Arg106 are critical for recognition of isochorismate. Mutagenesis of Phe490 and Ile489 has the most profound influence on catalytic efficiency, indicating that these two residues are important for binding of isochorismate and for stabilizing the cofactor position. These data allow for a detailed description of the structure–reactivity relationship that governs MenD function and refinement of the model for the catalytic intermediate that supports the Stetter-like conjugate addition.
CoA, coenzyme A; PDB, Protein Data Bank; SAD, single-wavelength anomalous diffraction; SEPHCHC, 2-succinyl-5-enolpyruvyl-6-hydroxy-3-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate; SeMet, selenomethionine; ThDP, thiamine diphosphate; PEG, polyethylene glycol; crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; menaquinone biosynthesis; thiamine diphosphate cofactor
The 2.5 Å resolution structure of S. aureus adenylosuccinate lyase is reported and compared with those of orthologues to assess its potential as a template for early stage drug discovery. AMP and a putative assignment of oxalate, the latter an artefact possibly arising from an impurity in the PEG used for crystallization, occupy the active site.
The medium-resolution structure of adenylosuccinate lyase (PurB) from the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in complex with AMP is presented. Oxalate, which is likely to be an artifact of crystallization, has been modelled in the active site and occupies a position close to that where succinate is observed in orthologous structures. PurB catalyzes reactions that support the provision of purines and the control of AMP/fumarate levels. As such, the enzyme is predicted to be essential for the survival of S. aureus and to be a potential therapeutic target. Comparisons of this pathogen PurB with the enzyme from Escherichia coli are presented to allow discussion concerning the enzyme mechanism. Comparisons with human PurB suggest that the close similarity of the active sites would make it difficult to identify species-specific inhibitors for this enyme. However, there are differences in the way that the subunits are assembled into dimers. The distinct subunit–subunit interfaces may provide a potential area to target by exploiting the observation that creation of the enzyme active site is dependent on oligomerization.
adenylosuccinate lyase; AMP; oxalate; purine biosynthesis; purine cycle
The close similarity of Trypanosoma brucei glutathione synthetase to the human orthologue indicates that the enzyme would be a difficult target for drug discovery.
Glutathione synthetase catalyses the synthesis of the low molecular mass thiol glutathione from l-γ-glutamyl-l-cysteine and glycine. We report the crystal structure of the dimeric enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei in complex with the product glutathione. The enzyme belongs to the ATP-grasp family, a group of enzymes known to undergo conformational changes upon ligand binding. The T. brucei enzyme crystal structure presents two dimers in the asymmetric unit. The structure reveals variability in the order and position of a small domain, which forms a lid for the active site and serves to capture conformations likely to exist during the catalytic cycle. Comparisons with orthologous enzymes, in particular from Homo sapiens and Saccharomyces cerevisae, indicate a high degree of sequence and structure conservation in part of the active site. Structural differences that are observed between the orthologous enzymes are assigned to different ligand binding states since key residues are conserved. This suggests that the molecular determinants of ligand recognition and reactivity are highly conserved across species. We conclude that it would be difficult to target the parasite enzyme in preference to the host enzyme and therefore glutathione synthetase may not be a suitable target for antiparasitic drug discovery.
AMP-PNP, adenylyl imidodiphosphate; GS, glutathione synthetase; GSH, glutathione; HEPES, 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)piperazine-1-ethanesulfonic acid, N-(2-hydroxyethyl)piperazine-N-(2-ethanesulfonic acid); MOPS, 3-(N-morpholino)-propanesulfonic acid; NCS, non-crystallographic symmetry; Tb, Trypanosoma brucei; TEV, tobacco etch virus; TLS, translation/libration/screw; TSA, trypanothione synthetase; T[SH]2, trypanothione; ATP-grasp; Glutathione; Glutathione synthetase; Trypanosoma brucei; Trypanothione; X-ray structure
The bifunctional trypanothione synthetase-amidase catalyzes biosynthesis and hydrolysis of the glutathione-spermidine adduct trypanothione, the principal intracellular thiol-redox metabolite in parasitic trypanosomatids. These parasites are unique with regard to their reliance on trypanothione to determine intracellular thiol-redox balance in defense against oxidative and chemical stress and to regulate polyamine levels. Enzymes involved in trypanothione biosynthesis provide essential biological activities, and those absent from humans or for which orthologues are sufficiently distinct are attractive targets to underpin anti-parasitic drug discovery. The structure of Leishmania major trypanothione synthetase-amidase, determined in three crystal forms, reveals two catalytic domains. The N-terminal domain, a cysteine, histidine-dependent amidohydrolase/peptidase amidase, is a papain-like cysteine protease, and the C-terminal synthetase domain displays an ATP-grasp family fold common to C:N ligases. Modeling of substrates into each active site provides insight into the specificity and reactivity of this unusual enzyme, which is able to catalyze four reactions. The domain orientation is distinct from that observed in a related bacterial glutathionylspermidine synthetase. In trypanothione synthetase-amidase, the interactions formed by the C terminus, binding in and restricting access to the amidase active site, suggest that the balance of ligation and hydrolytic activity is directly influenced by the alignment of the domains with respect to each other and implicate conformational changes with amidase activity. The potential inhibitory role of the C terminus provides a mechanism to control relative levels of the critical metabolites, trypanothione, glutathionylspermidine, and spermidine in Leishmania.
The protozoan Trypanosoma brucei has a functional pteridine reductase (TbPTR1), an NADPH-dependent short-chain reductase that participates in the salvage of pterins, which are essential for parasite growth. PTR1 displays broad-spectrum activity with pterins and folates, provides a metabolic bypass for inhibition of the trypanosomatid dihydrofolate reductase and therefore compromises the use of antifolates for treatment of trypanosomiasis. Catalytic properties of recombinant TbPTR1 and inhibition by the archetypal antifolate methotrexate have been characterized and the crystal structure of the ternary complex with cofactor NADP+ and the inhibitor determined at 2.2 Å resolution. This enzyme shares 50% amino acid sequence identity with Leishmania major PTR1 (LmPTR1) and comparisons show that the architecture of the cofactor binding site, and the catalytic centre are highly conserved, as are most interactions with the inhibitor. However, specific amino acid differences, in particular the placement of Trp221 at the side of the active site, and adjustment of the β6-α6 loop and α6 helix at one side of the substrate-binding cleft significantly reduce the size of the substrate binding site of TbPTR1 and alter the chemical properties compared with LmPTR1. A reactive Cys168, within the active site cleft, in conjunction with the C-terminus carboxyl group and His267 of a partner subunit forms a triad similar to the catalytic component of cysteine proteases. TbPTR1 therefore offers novel structural features to exploit in the search for inhibitors of therapeutic value against African trypanosomiasis.
We review recent advances in the study of the photosystem I reaction centre, following the determination of a spectacular 2.5 A resolution crystal structure for this complex of Synechococcus elongatus. Photosystem I is proving different to type II reaction centres in structure and organization, and the mechanism of transmembrane electron transfer, and is providing insights into the control of function in reaction centres that operate at very low redox potentials. The photosystem I complex of oxygenic organisms has a counterpart in non-oxygenic bacteria, the strictly anaerobic phototrophic green sulphur bacteria and heliobacteria. The most distinctive feature of these type I reaction centres is that they contain two copies of a large core polypeptide (i.e. a homodimer), rather than a heterodimeric arrangement of two related, but different, polypeptides as in the photosystem I complex. To compare the structural organization of the two forms of type I reaction centre, we have modelled the structure of the central region of the reaction centre from green sulphur bacteria, using sequence alignments and the structural coordinates of the S. elongatus Photosystem I complex. The outcome of these modelling studies is described, concentrating on regions of the type I reaction centre where important structure-function relationships have been demonstrated or inferred.
Tubulin-binding cofactor (TBC)-B is implicated in the presentation of α-tubulin ready to polymerize, and at the correct levels to form microtubules. Bioinformatics analyses, including secondary structure prediction, CD, and crystallography, were combined to characterize the molecular architecture of Trypanosoma brucei TBC-B. An efficient recombinant expression system was prepared, material-purified, and characterized by CD. Extensive crystallization screening, allied with the use of limited proteolysis, led to structures of the N-terminal ubiquitin-like and C-terminal cytoskeleton-associated protein with glycine-rich segment domains at 2.35-Å and 1.6-Å resolution, respectively. These are compact globular domains that appear to be linked by a flexible segment. The ubiquitin-like domain contains two lysines that are spatially conserved with residues known to participate in ubiquitinylation, and so may represent a module that, through covalent attachment, regulates the signalling and/or protein degradation associated with the control of microtubule assembly, catastrophe, or function. The TBC-B C-terminal cytoskeleton-associated protein with glycine-rich segment domain, a known tubulin-binding structure, is the only such domain encoded by the T. brucei genome. Interestingly, in the crystal structure, the peptide-binding groove of this domain forms intermolecular contacts with the C-terminus of a symmetry-related molecule, an association that may mimic interactions with the C-terminus of α-tubulin or other physiologically relevant partners. The interaction of TBC-B with the α-tubulin C-terminus may, in particular, protect from post-translational modifications, or simply assist in the shepherding of the protein into polymerization.
CAP-Gly domain; CD; crystallography; tubulin-binding; ubiquitin-like
4-Amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase (PabC) catalyzes the formation of 4-aminobenzoate, and release of pyruvate, during folate biosynthesis. This is an essential activity for the growth of Gram-negative bacteria, including important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A high-resolution (1.75 Å) crystal structure of PabC from P. aeruginosa has been determined, and sequence-structure comparisons with orthologous structures are reported. Residues around the pyridoxal 5′-phosphate cofactor are highly conserved adding support to aspects of a mechanism generic for enzymes carrying that cofactor. However, we suggest that PabC can be classified into two groups depending upon whether an active site and structurally conserved tyrosine is provided from the polypeptide that mainly forms an active site or from the partner subunit in the dimeric assembly. We considered that the conserved tyrosine might indicate a direct role in catalysis: that of providing a proton to reduce the olefin moiety of substrate as pyruvate is released. A threonine had previously been suggested to fulfill such a role prior to our observation of the structurally conserved tyrosine. We have been unable to elucidate an experimentally determined structure of PabC in complex with ligands to inform on mechanism and substrate specificity. Therefore we constructed a computational model of the catalytic intermediate docked into the enzyme active site. The model suggests that the conserved tyrosine helps to create a hydrophobic wall on one side of the active site that provides important interactions to bind the catalytic intermediate. However, this residue does not appear to participate in interactions with the C atom that undergoes an sp2 to sp3 conversion as pyruvate is produced. The model and our comparisons rather support the hypothesis that an active site threonine hydroxyl contributes a proton used in the reduction of the substrate methylene to pyruvate methyl in the final stage of the mechanism.