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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Feb 19;99(4):1859-64. Epub 2002 Feb 12.

Mechanism of action and NAD+-binding mode revealed by the crystal structure of L-histidinol dehydrogenase.

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Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council of Canada, 6100 Royalmount Avenue, Montreal, QC, Canada H4P 2R2.


The histidine biosynthetic pathway is an ancient one found in bacteria, archaebacteria, fungi, and plants that converts 5-phosphoribosyl 1-pyrophosphate to l-histidine in 10 enzymatic reactions. This pathway provided a paradigm for the operon, transcriptional regulation of gene expression, and feedback inhibition of a pathway. l-histidinol dehydrogenase (HisD, EC ) catalyzes the last two steps in the biosynthesis of l-histidine: sequential NAD-dependent oxidations of l-histidinol to l-histidinaldehyde and then to l-histidine. HisD functions as a homodimer and requires the presence of one Zn(2+) cation per monomer. We have determined the three-dimensional structure of Escherichia coli HisD in the apo state as well as complexes with substrate, Zn(2+), and NAD(+) (best resolution is 1.7 A). Each monomer is made of four domains, whereas the intertwined dimer possibly results from domain swapping. Two domains display a very similar incomplete Rossmann fold that suggests an ancient event of gene duplication. Residues from both monomers form the active site. Zn(2+) plays a crucial role in substrate binding but is not directly involved in catalysis. The active site residue His-327 participates in acid-base catalysis, whereas Glu-326 activates a water molecule. NAD(+) binds weakly to one of the Rossmann fold domains in a manner different from that previously observed for other proteins having a Rossmann fold.

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