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Biochemistry. 2002 Feb 12;41(6):1752-8.

A Birch-like mechanism in enzymatic benzoyl-CoA reduction: a kinetic study of substrate analogues combined with an ab initio model.

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Institut für Biologie II, Mikrobiologie, Universität Freiburg, Schänzlestrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Benzoyl-CoA reductase from the anaerobic bacterium Thauera aromatica catalyzes the ATP-driven two-electron reduction of the aromatic moiety of benzoyl-CoA. A Birch mechanism involving alternate one-electron and one-proton transfer steps to the aromatic ring was previously proposed for benzoyl-CoA reductase. Due to the high redox barrier, the first electron transfer step yielding a radical anion is considered the rate-limiting step in this reaction. Focusing on the mechanism of substrate reduction, this work combines the kinetic analysis of a number of substrate analogues with a model based on the ab initio calculated electron density of the radical anion of benzoyl-CoA, a transition state model of the proposed Birch mechanism. Both K(m) and k(cat) of ortho-substituted benzoyl-CoA increased in parallel with the substituent's acceptor strength (F > Cl = H > OH > NH(2)). Among the isomers of monofluorobenzoyl-CoA, reduction rates decreased in the following order: ortho > meta > para; the K(m) values increased in the following order: meta > ortho > para. Five-ring heteroaromatic acid thiol esters were reduced in the following order: thiophene > furan > pyrrole; the 2-isomers are reduced much faster than the 3-isomers. Most of these results could be rationalized by the model. A Hammett plot indicated that the reaction mechanism is only slightly polar, suggesting the involvement of a partial protonation of the carbonyl oxygen of benzoyl-CoA and/or a simultaneous transfer of the first electron and proton. Surprisingly, benzoyl-CoA reductase exhibited a hydrogen kinetic isotope effect on k(cat) for pyridine-2-carbonyl-CoA (2.1) but only a negligible one for benzoyl-CoA (1.2), indicating that pyridine-2-carbonyl-CoA reduction proceeds according to a varied mechanism.

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