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J Biol Chem. 2012 Aug 17;287(34):28495-502. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.375238. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Structural determinants of the β-selectivity of a bacterial aminotransferase.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biophysical Chemistry, University of Groningen, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands.


Chiral β-amino acids occur as constituents of various natural and synthetic compounds with potentially useful bioactivities. The pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)-dependent S-selective transaminase from Mesorhizobium sp. strain LUK (MesAT) is a fold type I aminotransferase that can be used for the preparation of enantiopure β-Phe and derivatives thereof. Using x-ray crystallography, we solved structures of MesAT in complex with (S)-β-Phe, (R)-3-amino-5-methylhexanoic acid, 2-oxoglutarate, and the inhibitor 2-aminooxyacetic acid, which allowed us to unveil the molecular basis of the amino acid specificity and enantioselectivity of this enzyme. The binding pocket of the side chain of a β-amino acid is located on the 3'-oxygen side of the PLP cofactor. The same binding pocket is utilized by MesAT to bind the α-carboxylate group of an α-amino acid. A β-amino acid thus binds in a reverse orientation in the active site of MesAT compared with an α-amino acid. Such a binding mode has not been reported before for any PLP-dependent aminotransferase and shows that the active site of MesAT has specifically evolved to accommodate both β- and α-amino acids.

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