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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 23;283(21):14552-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M800593200. Epub 2008 Mar 24.

Evidence that proline focuses movement of the floppy loop of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (EC

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  • 1Section of Neuroendocrinology, Program on Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) catalyzes the N-acetylation of serotonin, the penultimate step in the synthesis of melatonin. Pineal AANAT activity increases at night in all vertebrates, resulting in increased melatonin production. This increases circulating levels of melatonin, thereby providing a hormonal signal of darkness. Kinetic and structural analysis of AANAT has determined that one element is floppy. This element, termed Loop 1, is one of three loops that comprise the arylalkylamine binding pocket. During the course of chordate evolution, Loop 1 acquired the tripeptide CPL, and the enzyme became highly active. Here we focused on the functional importance of the CPL tripeptide and found that activity was markedly reduced when it was absent. Moreover, increasing the local flexibility of this tripeptide region by P64G and P64A mutations had the counterintuitive effect of reducing activity and reducing the overall movement of Loop 1, as estimated from Langevin dynamics simulations. Binding studies indicate that these mutations increased the off-rate constant of a model substrate without altering the dissociation constant. The structural kink and local rigidity imposed by Pro-64 may enhance activity by favoring configurations of Loop 1 that facilitate catalysis and do not become immobilized by intramolecular interactions.

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