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Biochemistry. 2007 Oct 16;46(41):11451-8. Epub 2007 Sep 25.

Copper ions inhibit S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase by causing dissociation of NAD+ cofactor.

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Department of Chemical Biology and State Key Laboratories of Natural and Biomimetic Drugs, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100083, People's Republic of China.


S-Adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase (SAHH) regulates biomethylation and homocysteine metabolism and thus is an attractive target in drug design studies. SAHH has been shown to be a copper binding protein in vivo; however, the structure and catalytic mechanism of SAHH exclude a role for Cu2+. In the present work, we studied the mechanism of inhibition of SAHH activity by Cu2+. The experimental results showed that Cu2+ inhibited SAHH activity in a noncompetitive manner. Binding of Cu2+ to SAHH resulted in the release of NAD+ cofactors, explaining the loss of the enzymatic activity of SAHH. Further investigation by an ESR probe and computational simulation suggested that Cu2+ could bind at the central channel and interrupt the subunit interactions of SAHH, resulting in a large decrease in affinity to the NAD+ cofactor. This effect of Cu2+ resembled that of enzyme mutations at the C-terminal domain or Asp244 [Komoto, J., Huang, Y., Gomi, T., Ogawa, H., Takata, Y., Fujioka, M., and Takusagawa, F. (2000) Effects of site-directed mutagenesis on structure and function of recombinant rat liver S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase. Crystal structure of D244E mutant enzyme, J. Biol. Chem. 275, 32147-32156]. The mechanism of action of Cu2+ on SAHH suggested a possible regulative role for Cu2+ on the intracellular activity of SAHH. This could be helpful in understanding the biological effects of copper compounds and suggest a potential coupling mechanism between biomethylation and the redox states of cells.

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