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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2003 Sep 15;417(2):203-11.

Alternative termination chemistries utilized by monoterpene cyclases: chimeric analysis of bornyl diphosphate, 1,8-cineole, and sabinene synthases.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6340, USA.


Monoterpene cyclization reactions are initiated by ionization and isomerization of geranyl diphosphate, and proceed, via cyclization of bound linalyl diphosphate, through a series of carbocation intermediates with ultimate termination of the multistep cascade by deprotonation or nucleophile capture. Three structurally and mechanistically related monoterpene cyclases from Salvia officinalis, (+)-sabinene synthase (deprotonation to olefin), 1,8-cineole synthase (water capture), and (+)-bornyl diphosphate synthase (diphosphate capture), were employed to explore the structural determinants of these alternative termination chemistries. Results with chimeric recombinant enzymes, constructed by reciprocally substituting regions of sabinene synthase with the corresponding sequences from bornyl diphosphate synthase or 1,8-cineole synthase, demonstrated that exchange of the C-terminal catalytic domain is sufficient to completely switch the resulting product profile. Exchange of smaller sequence elements identified a region of roughly 70 residues from 1,8-cineole synthase that, when substituted into sabinene synthase, conferred the ability to produce 1,8-cineole. A similar strategy identified a small region of bornyl diphosphate synthase important in conducting the anti-Markovnikov addition to the bornane skeleton. Observations made with these chimeric monoterpene cyclases are discussed in the context of the recently determined crystal structure for bornyl diphosphate synthase.

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