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Structure. 2002 Sep;10(9):1159-71.

Betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase: zinc in a distorted barrel.

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Biophysics Research Division and Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Betaine-homocysteine methyl transferase (BHMT) catalyzes the synthesis of methionine from betaine and homocysteine (Hcy), utilizing a zinc ion to activate Hcy. BHMT is a key liver enzyme that is important for homocysteine homeostasis. X-ray structures of human BHMT in its oxidized (Zn-free) and reduced (Zn-replete) forms, the latter in complex with the bisubstrate analog, S(delta-carboxybutyl)-L-homocysteine, were determined at resolutions of 2.15 A and 2.05 A. BHMT is a (beta/alpha)(8) barrel that is distorted to construct the substrate and metal binding sites. The zinc binding sequences G-V/L-N-C and G-G-C-C are at the C termini of strands beta6 and beta8. Oxidation to the Cys217-Cys299 disulfide and expulsion of Zn are accompanied by local rearrangements. The structures identify Hcy binding fingerprints and provide a prototype for the homocysteine S-methyltransferase family.

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