Insights into the Glycyl Radical Enzyme Active Site of Benzylsuccinate Synthase: A Computational Study
datasetposted on 2013-08-21, 00:00 authored by Vivek S. Bharadwaj, Anthony M. Dean, C. Mark Maupin
The fumarate addition reaction, catalyzed by the enzyme benzylsuccinate synthase (BSS), is considered to be one of the most intriguing and energetically challenging reactions in biology. BSS belongs to the glycyl radical enzyme family and catalyzes the fumarate addition reaction, which enables microorganisms to utilize hydrocarbons as an energy source under anaerobic conditions. Unfortunately, the extreme sensitivity of the glycyl radical to oxygen has hampered the structural and kinetic characterization of BSS, thereby limiting our knowledge on this enzyme. To enhance our molecular-level understanding of BSS, a computational approach involving homology modeling, docking studies, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations has been used to deduce the structure of BSS’s catalytic subunit (BSSα) and illuminate the molecular basis for the fumarate addition reaction. We have identified two conserved and distinct binding pockets at the BSSα active site: a hydrophobic pocket for toluene binding and a polar pocket for fumaric acid binding. Subsequent dynamical and energetic evaluations have identified Glu509, Ser827, Leu390, and Phe384 as active site residues critical for substrate binding. The orientation of substrates at the active site observed in MD simulations is consistent with experimental observations of the syn addition of toluene to fumaric acid. It is also found that substrate binding tightens the active site and restricts the conformational flexibility of the thiyl radical, leading to hydrogen transfer distances conducive to the proposed reaction mechanism. The stability of substrates at the active site and the occurrence of feasible radical transfer distances between the thiyl radical, substrates, and the active site glycine indicate a substrate-assisted radical transfer pathway governing fumarate addition.