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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2009 Feb;16(2):190-7. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1532. Epub 2009 Jan 18.

Conformational flexibility of metazoan fatty acid synthase enables catalysis.

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Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The metazoan cytosolic fatty acid synthase (FAS) contains all of the enzymes required for de novo fatty acid biosynthesis covalently linked around two reaction chambers. Although the three-dimensional architecture of FAS has been mostly defined, it is unclear how reaction intermediates can transfer between distant catalytic domains. Using single-particle EM, we have identified a near continuum of conformations consistent with a remarkable flexibility of FAS. The distribution of conformations was influenced by the presence of substrates and altered by different catalytic mutations, suggesting a direct correlation between conformation and specific enzymatic activities. We interpreted three-dimensional reconstructions by docking high-resolution structures of individual domains, and they show that the substrate-loading and condensation domains dramatically swing and swivel to access substrates within either reaction chamber. Concomitant rearrangement of the beta-carbon-processing domains synchronizes acyl chain reduction in one chamber with acyl chain elongation in the other.

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