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J Mol Biol. 1995 Oct 20;253(2):358-69.

6-Pyruvoyl tetrahydropterin synthase, an enzyme with a novel type of active site involving both zinc binding and an intersubunit catalytic triad motif; site-directed mutagenesis of the proposed active center, characterization of the metal binding site and modelling of substrate binding.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


6-Pyruvoyl tetrahydropterin synthase (PTPS) is an enzyme involved in tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis, the cofactor for several aromatic amino acid monooxygenases and the nitric oxide synthases. The crystal structure of PTPS was recently solved and showed a homohexameric enzyme composed of a dimer of trimers. A transition metal binding site formed by the three histidine residues 23, 48 and 50 was found in each subunit. We showed by metal analysis and reconstitution of apo-PTPS that Zn(II) was the bound transition metal and responsible for the enzymatic activity. Site-directed mutagenesis of each of these three histidine residues resulted in a complete loss of metal binding and enzymatic activity. The three residues, Cys42, His89 and Glu133, located close to the metal binding site, were previously postulated to be involved in the catalytic reaction. We altered these residues and found a complete loss of enzymatic activity for the mutant C42A. The two mutants, H89N and E133Q, showed 4.3% and 1.3% enzymatic activity, respectively, but had similar KM values for the substrate as compared to wild-type PTPS. Based on these results we propose a model of the substrate fitted into the active site and we described a novel intersubunit catalytic triad motif composed of the amino acid residues Cys42, His89 and Asp88. Different from most other catalytic triads that catalyse the hydrolysis of an amide or ester bond, the catalytic triad in the active site of PTPS seems to be involved in the deprotonation of the substrate's side-chain carbons. Our model also proposes Zn(II) as the coordination site for the two substrate side-chain hydroxy groups as well as the involvement of Glu133 as putative stereospecific proton server.

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