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Biochemistry. 1992 Dec 8;31(48):12155-61.

Orotidylate decarboxylase: insights into the catalytic mechanism from substrate specificity studies.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599.


Pyrimidine nucleotides were tested as substrates for pure yeast orotidylate decarboxylase in an attempt to gain insight into the nature of the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme. Substitutions of the 5-position in the pyrimidine ring of the orotidylate substrate resulted in compounds that are either excellent inhibitors or substrates of the enzyme. The 5-bromo- and 5-chloroorotidylates are potent inhibitors while the 5-fluoro derivative is a good substrate with a turnover number 30 times that observed with orotidylate. When carbon 5 of the pyrimidine ring is replaced by nitrogen in 5-azaorotidylate, the resulting compound is unstable in solution with a half-life of 25 min at pH 6. However, studies with freshly generated 5-azaorotidylate show that an enzyme-dependent reaction occurs, presumably decarboxylation. This enzyme reaction follows simple Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Because the 5-aza group is not electrophilic, an enzyme mechanism utilizing a nucleophilic addition of the enzyme at the 5-position is ruled out. We also present studies that are not compatible with a mechanism requiring the formation of a Schiff's base prior to decarboxylation. The enzyme is tolerant of modest substitution at the 4-position, for the 4-keto group can be replaced with a thioketone. However, no catalysis is observed when the same substitution is made at the 2-position. Similarities in the substrate specificity of orotate phosphoribosyltransferase and orotidylate decarboxylase led us to compare the amino acid sequences of the two enzymes; significant (20%) sequence homology was observed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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