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Biochem J. 2006 Feb 15;394(Pt 1):67-75.

Characterization of retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 3.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK.


RALDH3 (retinal dehydrogenase 3) was characterized by kinetic and binding studies, protein engineering, homology modelling, ligand docking and electrostatic-potential calculations. The major recognition determinant of an RALDH3 substrate was shown to be an eight-carbon chain bonded to the aldehyde group whose kinetic influence (kcat/Km at pH 8.5) decreases when shortened or lengthened. Surprisingly, the b-ionone ring of all-trans-retinal is not a major recognition site. The dissociation constants (Kd) of the complexes of RALDH3 with octanal, NAD+ and NADH were determined by intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence. The similarity of the Kd values for the complexes with NAD+ and with octanal suggests a random kinetic mechanism for RALDH3, in contrast with the ordered sequential mechanism often associated with aldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes. Inhibition of RALDH3 by tri-iodothyronine binding in competition with NAD+, predicted by the modelling, was established kinetically and by immunoprecipitation. Mechanistic implications of the kinetically influential ionizations with macroscopic pKa values of 5.0 and 7.5 revealed by the pH-dependence of kcat are discussed. Analogies with data for non-phosphorylating glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase from Streptococcus mutans, together with the present modelled structure of the thioacyl RALDH3, suggest (a) that kcat characterizes deacylation of this intermediate for specific substrates and (b) the assignment of the pKa of the major ionization (approximating to 7.5) to the perturbed carboxy group of Glu280 whose conjugate base is envisaged as supplying general base catalysis to attack of a water molecule. The macroscopic pKa of the minor ionization (5.0) is considered to approximate to that of the carboxy group of Glu488.

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