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Biochemistry. 2003 Mar 11;42(9):2700-7.

Bifunctional abietadiene synthase: mutual structural dependence of the active sites for protonation-initiated and ionization-initiated cyclizations.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6340, USA.


Abietadiene synthase from grand fir catalyzes two sequential, mechanistically distinct cyclizations, of geranylgeranyl diphosphate and of copalyl diphosphate, in the formation of a mixture of abietadiene isomers as the committed step of diterpenoid resin acid biosynthesis. Each reaction is independently conducted at a separate active site residing in what were considered to be structurally distinct domains typical of terpene cyclases. Despite the presence of an unusual 250-residue N-terminal insertional element, a tandem pair of charged residues distal to the insertion was shown to form a functional part of the C-terminal active site. Because abietadiene synthase resembles the ancestral plant terpene cyclase, this observation suggests an early evolutionary origin of catalytically important positively charged residues at the N-terminus of enzymes of this general class. A series of N- and C-terminal truncations of this enzyme were constructed and characterized, both alone and as mixtures of adjacent polypeptide pairs, to assess the proposed domain architecture, the function of the insertional element, and the role of presumptive interdomain contacts. These studies indicated a requirement for the insertional element in functional folding and allowed definition of the minimum primary structure of N- and C-terminal active site peptides. Most importantly, the results showed that, although the two active sites of abietadiene synthase are catalytically independent, substantial contact between the two regions is essential for the functional competence of this enzyme. Thus, the two cyclization sites of abietadiene synthase cannot be dissected into catalytically distinct domains, and, therefore, abietadiene synthase is unlikely to have arisen by fusion of two previously independent genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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