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Catalytic Mechanism of SHCHC Synthase in the Menaquinone Biosynthesis of Escherichia coli: Identification and Mutational Analysis of the Active Site Residues

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journal contribution
posted on 28.07.2009, 00:00 by Ming Jiang, Xiaolei Chen, Xian-Hui Wu, Minjiao Chen, Yun-Dong Wu, Zhihong Guo
(1R,6R)-2-Succinyl-6-hydroxy-2,4-cyclohexadiene-1-carboxylate (SHCHC) synthase (MenH) is an α/β fold enzyme containing a catalytically essential serine−histidine−aspartate triad typical of serine proteases but catalyzes a pyruvate elimination reaction initiated by α-proton abstraction in the menaquinone biosynthetic pathway of Escherichia coli. In this study, we identify the active site residues in the synthase through sequence analysis and structural modeling and study their mechanistic roles in MenH catalysis. Steady-state kinetic characterization of site-directed mutants of the active site residues shows that three conserved arginine residues (Arg-90, Arg-124, and Arg-168) likely form ionic salt bridges with three carboxylate groups of the substrate in the Michaelis complex and that the side-chain polar groups of the conserved tyrosine (Tyr-85) and tryptophan (Trp-147) residues likely donate hydrogen bonds to form an “oxyanion hole”. In addition, the pH dependence of the MenH kinetic properties reveals a catalytic base with a pKa highly dependent on the hydroxyl group of the triad serine residue in the enzymatic reaction. Moreover, proton inventory experiments demonstrate that the SHCHC synthase adopts one-proton catalysis like many serine proteases. These results allow the proposal of a mechanism in which the histidine residue of the MenH triad serves as a general base catalyst to deprotonate the triad seryl hydroxyl group in the α-proton abstraction from the substrate. As such, the MenH triad performs a simple and fundamental proton transfer reaction occurring repeatedly in the reactions catalyzed by serine proteases and α/β fold hydrolases, suggesting a common evolutionary origin for all serine−histidine−aspartate triads serving different catalytic functions.