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Biochemistry. 2006 Sep 26;45(38):11464-72.

Exploring the role of the active site cysteine in human muscle creatine kinase.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Michigan, 428 Church Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


All known guanidino kinases contain a conserved cysteine residue that interacts with the non-nucleophilic eta1-nitrogen of the guanidino substrate. Site-directed mutagenesis studies have shown that this cysteine is important, but not essential for activity. In human muscle creatine kinase (HMCK) this residue, Cys283, forms part of a conserved cysteine-proline-serine (CPS) motif and has a pKa about 3 pH units below that of a regular cysteine residue. Here we employ a computational approach to predict the contribution of residues in this motif to the unusually low cysteine pKa. We calculate that hydrogen bonds to the hydroxyl and to the backbone amide of Ser285 would both contribute approximately 1 pH unit, while the presence of Pro284 in the motif lowers the pKa of Cys283 by a further 1.2 pH units. Using UV difference spectroscopy the pKa of the active site cysteine in WT HMCK and in the P284A, S285A, and C283S/S285C mutants was determined experimentally. The pKa values, although consistently about 0.5 pH unit lower, were in broad agreement with those predicted. The effect of each of these mutations on the pH-rate profile was also examined. The results show conclusively that, contrary to a previous report (Wang et al. (2001) Biochemistry 40, 11698-11705), Cys283 is not responsible for the pKa of 5.4 observed in the WT V/K(creatine) pH profile. Finally we use molecular dynamics simulations to demonstrate that, in order to maintain the linear alignment necessary for associative inline transfer of a phosphoryl group, Cys283 needs to be ionized.

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