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J Biol Chem. 1991 Nov 15;266(32):21657-65.

Mechanism-based inactivation of alanine racemase by 3-halovinylglycines.

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  • 1Department of Enzymology, Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065.


Alanine racemase, an enzyme important to bacterial cell wall synthesis, is irreversibly inactivated by 3-chloro- and 3-fluorovinylglycine. Using alanine racemase purified to homogeneity from Escherichia coli B, the efficient inactivation produced a lethal event for every 2.2 +/- 0.2 nonlethal turnovers, compared to 1 in 800 for fluoroalanine. The mechanism of inhibition involves enzyme-catalyzed halide elimination to form an allenic intermediate that partitions between reversible and irreversible covalent adducts, in the ratio 3:7. The reversible adduct (lambda max = 516 nm) decays to regenerate free enzyme with a half-life of 23 min. The lethal event involves irreversible alkylation of a tyrosine residue in the sequence -Val-Gly-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Arg. The second-order rate constant for this process with D-chlorovinylglycine (122 +/- 14 M-1 s-1), the most reactive analog examined, is faster than the equivalent rate constant for D-fluoroalanine (93 M-1 s-1). The high killing efficiency and fast turnover of these mechanism-based inhibitors suggest that their design, employing the haloethylene moiety to generate a reactive allene during catalysis, could be extended to provide useful inhibitors of a variety of enzymes that conduct carbanion chemistry.

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