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J Biol Chem. 2005 Sep 30;280(39):33477-86. Epub 2005 Jul 15.

Leukotriene A4 hydrolase, insights into the molecular evolution by homology modeling and mutational analysis of enzyme from Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Divisions of Chemistry 1 and 2, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm S-171 77, Sweden.


Mammalian leukotriene A4 (LTA4) hydrolase is a bifunctional zinc metalloenzyme possessing an Arg/Ala aminopeptidase and an epoxide hydrolase activity, which converts LTA4 into the chemoattractant LTB4. We have previously cloned an LTA4 hydrolase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae with a primitive epoxide hydrolase activity and a Leu aminopeptidase activity, which is stimulated by LTA4. Here we used a modeled structure of S. cerevisiae LTA4 hydrolase, mutational analysis, and binding studies to show that Glu-316 and Arg-627 are critical for catalysis, allowing us to a propose a mechanism for the epoxide hydrolase activity. Guided by the structure, we engineered S. cerevisiae LTA4 hydrolase to attain catalytic properties resembling those of human LTA4 hydrolase. Thus, six consecutive point mutations gradually introduced a novel Arg aminopeptidase activity and caused the specific Ala and Pro aminopeptidase activities to increase 24 and 63 times, respectively. In contrast to the wild type enzyme, the hexuple mutant was inhibited by LTA4 for all tested substrates and to the same extent as for the human enzyme. In addition, these mutations improved binding of LTA4 and increased the relative formation of LTB4, whereas the turnover of this substrate was only weakly affected. Our results suggest that during evolution, the active site of an ancestral eukaryotic zinc aminopeptidase has been reshaped to accommodate lipid substrates while using already existing catalytic residues for a novel, gradually evolving, epoxide hydrolase activity. Moreover, the unique ability to catalyze LTB4 synthesis appears to be the result of multiple and subtle structural rearrangements at the catalytic center rather than a limited set of specific amino acid substitutions.

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