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Cell. 2002 Oct 4;111(1):91-103.

Structure and catalytic mechanism of a SET domain protein methyltransferase.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Protein lysine methylation by SET domain enzymes regulates chromatin structure, gene silencing, transcriptional activation, plant metabolism, and other processes. The 2.6 A resolution structure of Rubisco large subunit methyltransferase in a pseudo-bisubstrate complex with S-adenosylhomocysteine and a HEPES ion reveals an all-beta architecture for the SET domain embedded within a larger alpha-helical enzyme fold. Conserved regions of the SET domain bind S-adenosylmethionine and substrate lysine at two sites connected by a pore. We propose that methyl transfer is catalyzed by a conserved Tyr at a narrow pore connecting the sites. The cofactor enters by a "back door" on the opposite side of the enzyme from substrate, promoting highly specific protein recognition and allowing addition of multiple methyl groups.

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