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J Biol Chem. 2012 Aug 31;287(36):30560-70. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.388538. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

Structural basis of biological nitrile reduction.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207, USA.

Abstract

The enzyme QueF catalyzes the reduction of the nitrile group of 7-cyano-7-deazaguanine (preQ(0)) to 7-aminomethyl-7-deazaguanine (preQ(1)), the only nitrile reduction reaction known in biology. We describe here two crystal structures of Bacillus subtilis QueF, one of the wild-type enzyme in complex with the substrate preQ(0), trapped as a covalent thioimide, a putative intermediate in the reaction, and the second of the C55A mutant in complex with the substrate preQ(0) bound noncovalently. The QueF enzyme forms an asymmetric tunnel-fold homodecamer of two head-to-head facing pentameric subunits, harboring 10 active sites at the intersubunit interfaces. In both structures, a preQ(0) molecule is bound at eight sites, and in the wild-type enzyme, it forms a thioimide covalent linkage to the catalytic residue Cys-55. Both structural and transient kinetic data show that preQ(0) binding, not thioimide formation, induces a large conformational change in and closure of the active site. Based on these data, we propose a mechanism for the activation of the Cys-55 nucleophile and subsequent hydride transfer.

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