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Mol Pharmacol. 2010 Oct;78(4):600-7. doi: 10.1124/mol.110.065458. Epub 2010 Jul 13.

Phenylalanine-544 plays a key role in substrate and inhibitor binding by providing a hydrophobic packing point at the active site of insulin-regulated aminopeptidase.

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  • 1Howard Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Inhibitors of insulin-regulated aminopeptidase (IRAP) improve memory and are being developed as a novel treatment for memory loss. In this study, the binding of a class of these inhibitors to human IRAP was investigated using molecular docking and site-directed mutagenesis. Four benzopyran-based IRAP inhibitors with different affinities were docked into a homology model of the catalytic site of IRAP. Two 4-pyridinyl derivatives orient with the benzopyran oxygen interacting with the Zn(2+) ion and a direct parallel ring-stack interaction between the benzopyran rings and Phe544. In contrast, the two 4-quinolinyl derivatives orient in a different manner, interacting with the Zn(2+) ion via the quinoline nitrogen, and Phe544 contributes an edge-face hydrophobic stacking point with the benzopyran moiety. Mutagenic replacement of Phe544 with alanine, isoleucine, or valine resulted in either complete loss of catalytic activity or altered hydrolysis velocity that was substrate-dependent. Phe544 is also important for inhibitor binding, because these mutations altered the K(i) in some cases, and docking of the inhibitors into the corresponding Phe544 mutant models revealed how the interaction might be disturbed. These findings demonstrate a key role of Phe544 in the binding of the benzopyran IRAP inhibitors and for optimal positioning of enzyme substrates during catalysis.

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