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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Jan 12;1544(1-2):28-41.

Characterization of yeast homoserine dehydrogenase, an antifungal target: the invariant histidine 309 is important for enzyme integrity.

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  • 1Antimicrobisl Research Center, Departmentof Biochemistry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont, Canada.


Fungal homoserine dehydrogenase (HSD) is required for the biosynthesis of threonine, isoleucine and methionine from aspartic acid, and is a target for antifungal agents. HSD from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was overproduced in Escherichia coli and 25 mg of soluble dimeric enzyme was purified per liter of cell culture in two steps. HSD efficiently reduces aspartate semialdehyde to homoserine (Hse) using either NADH or NADPH with kcat/Km in the order of 10(6-7) M(-1) x s(-1) at pH 7.5. The rate constant of the reverse direction (Hse oxidation) was also significant at pH 9.0 (kcat/Km approximately 10(4-5) M(-1) x s(-1)) but was minimal at pH 7.5. Chemical modification of HSD with diethyl pyrocarbonate (DEPC) resulted in a loss of activity that could be obviated by the presence of substrates. UV difference spectra revealed an increase in absorbance at 240 nm for DEPC-modified HSD consistent with the modification of two histidines (His) per subunit. Amino acid sequence alignment of HSD illustrated the conservation of two His residues among HSDs. These residues, His79 and His309, were substituted to alanine (Ala) using site directed mutagenesis. HSD H79A had similar steady state kinetics to wild type, while kcat/Km for HSD H309A decreased by almost two orders of magnitude. The recent determination of the X-ray structure of HSD revealed that His309 is located at the dimer interface [B. DeLaBarre, P.R. Thompson, G.D. Wright, A.M. Berghuis, Nat. Struct. Biol. 7 (2000) 238-244]. The His309Ala mutant enzyme was found in very high molecular weight complexes rather than the expected dimer by analytical gel filtration chromatography analysis. Thus the invariant His309 plays a structural rather than catalytic role in these enzymes.

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