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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Aug 17;133(32):12338-41. doi: 10.1021/ja203397s. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Regulated O2 activation in flavin-dependent monooxygenases.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, United States.


Flavin-dependent monooxygenases (FMOs) are involved in important biosynthetic pathways in diverse organisms, including production of the siderophores used for the import and storage of essential iron in serious pathogens. We have shown that the FMO from Aspergillus fumigatus, an ornithine monooxygenase (Af-OMO), is mechanistically similar to its well-studied distant homologues from mammalian liver. The latter are highly promiscuous in their choice of substrates, while Af-OMO is unusually specific. This presents a puzzle: how do Af-OMO and other FMOs of the biosynthetic classes achieve such specificity? We have discovered substantial enhancement in the rate of O(2) activation in Af-OMO in the presence of L-arginine, which acts as a small molecule regulator. Such protein-level regulation could help explain how this and related biosynthetic FMOs manage to couple O(2) activation and substrate hydroxylation to each other and to the appropriate cellular conditions. Given the essentiality of Fe to Af and the avirulence of the Af-OMO gene knock out, inhibitors of Af-OMO are likely to be drug targets against this medically intractable pathogen.

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