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Bioorg Chem. 2004 Oct;32(5):316-25.

The porphobilinogen synthase catalyzed reaction mechanism.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


Porphobilinogen synthase (PBGS) catalyzes the first common reaction in the biosynthesis of the tetrapyrroles, the asymmetric condensation of two molecules of delta-aminolevulinic acid to form porphobilinogen. There is a variable requirement for an essential active site zinc that necessitates consideration of PBGS as an enzyme that may exhibit phylogenetic diversity in its chemical reaction mechanism. Recent crystal structures suggest reaction mechanisms that involve two covalent Schiff base linkages between adjacent active site lysine residues and each of the two substrate molecules. The reaction appears to stall at a covalently bound almost-product intermediate that is poised for breakdown to product upon binding of a substrate molecule to an adjacent active site and a subsequent conformational change.

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