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J Biol Chem. 1998 Aug 28;273(35):22305-10.

Oxygen-mediated inactivation of peptide deformylase.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Peptide deformylase catalyzes the removal of the N-formyl group from newly synthesized polypeptides in prokaryotes. Its essential character and unique presence in prokaryotes make it an attractive target for antibacterial chemotherapy. However, purification and characterization of the peptide deformylase have remained a major challenge because this enzyme is extraordinarily labile under a variety of conditions (t1/2 approximately 1 min at room temperature). In this work, we show that this unusual instability is because of oxidation of the catalytic Fe2+ ion of the deformylase into catalytically inactive Fe3+ ion by atmospheric oxygen. Oxidation of Fe2+ is accompanied by the conversion of O2 into a yet unidentified reactive species, which covalently modifies the deformylase protein, most likely by oxidizing cysteine-90, a ligand residue of the Fe2+ ion, into a cysteine sulfonic acid. Enzymatic exclusion of O2 from the deformylase assays renders the deformylase highly stable under otherwise identical conditions. An improved, readily reproducible purification procedure has been developed that produces approximately 10 mg of pure, fully active Fe2+ deformylase from a liter of cells. In addition, active peptide deformylase can be reconstituted in vitro from the denatured deformylase.

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