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J Am Chem Soc. 2002 Dec 18;124(50):14879-92.

Oxidation of heme to beta- and delta-biliverdin by Pseudomonas aeruginosa heme oxygenase as a consequence of an unusual seating of the heme.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


The origin of the unusual regioselectivity of heme oxygenation, i.e. the oxidation of heme to delta-biliverdin (70%) and beta-biliverdin (30%), that is exhibited by heme oxygenase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa (pa-HO) has been studied by (1)H NMR, (13)C NMR, and resonance Raman spectroscopies. Whereas resonance Raman indicates that the heme-iron ligation in pa-HO is homologous to that observed in previously studied alpha-hydroxylating heme oxygenases, the NMR spectroscopic studies suggest that the heme in this enzyme is seated in a manner that is distinct from that observed for all other alpha-hydroxylating heme oxygenase enzymes for which a structure is known. In pa-HO, the heme is rotated in-plane approximately 110 degrees, so the delta-meso-carbon of the major orientational isomer is located within the HO-fold in the place where the alpha-hydroxylating enzymes typically place the alpha-meso-carbon. The unusual heme seating displayed by pa-HO places the heme propionates so that these groups point in the direction of the solvent-exposed heme edge and appears to originate in large part from the absence of stabilizing interactions between the polypeptide and the heme propionates, which are typically found in alpha-hydroxylating heme oxygenase enzymes. These interactions typically involve Lys-16 and Tyr-112, in Neisseriae meningitidis HO, and Lys-16 and Tyr-134, in human and rat HO-1. The corresponding residues in pa-HO are Asn-19 and Phe-117, respectively. In agreement with this hypothesis, we found that the Asn-19 Lys/Phe-117 Tyr double mutant of pa-HO exists as a mixture of molecules exhibiting two distinct heme seatings; one seating is identical to that exhibited by wild-type pa-HO, whereas the alternative seating is very similar to that typical of alpha-hydroxylating heme oxygenase enzymes and is related to the wild-type seating by approximately 110 degrees in-plane rotation of the heme. Furthermore, each of these heme seatings in the pa-HO double mutant gives rise to a subset of two heme isomeric orientations that are related to each other by 180 degrees rotation about the alpha-gamma-meso-axis. The coexistence of these molecules in solution, in the proportions suggested by the corresponding area under the peaks in the (1)H NMR spectrum, explains the unusual regioselectivity of heme oxygenation observed with the double mutant, which we found produces alpha- (55%), delta- (35%), and beta-biliverdin (10%). Alpha-biliverdin is obtained by oxidation of the heme seated similar to that of alpha-hydroxylating enzymes, whereas beta- and delta-biliverdin are formed from the oxidation of heme seated as in wild-type pa-HO.

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