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Biochemistry. 2007 Aug 21;46(33):9495-506. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

Mechanistic implications of the cysteine-nicotinamide adduct in aldehyde dehydrogenase based on quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical simulations.

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  • 1National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA. wymore@psc.edu


Recent computer simulations of the cysteine nucleophilic attack on propanal in human mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) yielded an unexpected result: the chemically reasonable formation of a dead-end cysteine-cofactor adduct when NAD+ was in the "hydride transfer" position. More recently, this adduct found independent crystallographic support in work on formyltetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase, work which further found evidence of the same adduct on re-examination of deposited electron densities of ALDH2. Although the experimental data showed that this adduct was reversible, several mechanistic questions arise from the fact that it forms at all. Here, we present results from further quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical (QM/MM) simulations toward understanding the mechanistic implications of adduct formation. These simulations revealed formation of the oxyanion thiohemiacetal intermediate only when the nicotinamide ring of NAD+ is oriented away from the active site, contrary to prior arguments. In contrast, and in seeming paradox, when NAD is oriented to receive the hydride, disassociation of the oxyanion intermediate to form the dead-end adduct is more thermodynamically favored than maintaining the oxyanion intermediate necessary for catalysis to proceed. However, this disassociation to the adduct could be avoided through proton transfer from the enzyme to the intermediate. Our results continue to indicate that the unlikely source of this proton is the Cys302 main chain amide.

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