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Biochemistry. 2002 Jan 29;41(4):1308-14.

The reaction catalyzed by tetrachlorohydroquinone dehalogenase does not involve nucleophilic aromatic substitution.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Campus Box 216, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


Tetrachlorohydroquinone dehalogenase catalyzes the reductive dehalogenation of tetrachlorohydroquinone and trichlorohydroquinone during the biodegradation of the xenobiotic compound pentachlorophenol by Sphingobium chlorophenolicum. The mechanism of this transformation is of interest because it is unusual and difficult, and because aerobic microorganisms rarely catalyze reductive dehalogenation reactions. Tetrachlorohydroquinone dehalogenase is a member of the glutathione S-transferase superfamily. Many enzymes in this superfamily are capable of catalyzing nucleophilic aromatic substitution reactions. On the basis of this precedent, we have considered a mechanism for tetrachlorohydroquinone dehalogenase that involves a nucleophilic aromatic substitution reaction, either via an S(N)Ar mechanism or an S(RN)1-like mechanism, in the initial part of the reaction. Mechanistic studies were carried out with the wild type enzyme and with the C13S mutant enzyme, which catalyzes only the initial steps in the reaction. Three findings eliminate the possibility of a nucleophilic aromatic substitution reaction. First, the product of such a reaction, 2,3,5-trichloro-6-S-glutathionylhydroquinone, is not a kinetically competent intermediate. Second, the enzyme can carry out the reaction when the substrate is deprotonated at the active site. Nucleophilic aromatic substitution should not be possible when the substrate is negatively charged. Third, substantial normal solvent kinetic isotope effects on k(cat) and k(cat)/K(M,TriCHQ) are observed. Nonenzymatic and enzymatic nucleophilic S(N)Ar reactions typically show inverse solvent kinetic isotope effects.

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