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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Oct 12;133(40):15979-91. doi: 10.1021/ja203005j. Epub 2011 Sep 14.

Spectroscopic and computational studies of α-keto acid binding to Dke1: understanding the role of the facial triad and the reactivity of β-diketones.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, United States.


The O(2) activating mononuclear nonheme iron enzymes generally have a common facial triad (two histidine and one carboxylate (Asp or Glu) residue) ligating Fe(II) at the active site. Exceptions to this motif have recently been identified in nonheme enzymes, including a 3His triad in the diketone cleaving dioxygenase Dke1. This enzyme is used to explore the role of the facial triad in directing reactivity. A combination of spectroscopic studies (UV-vis absorption, MCD, and resonance Raman) and DFT calculations is used to define the nature of the binding of the α-keto acid, 4-hydroxyphenlpyruvate (HPP), to the active site in Dke1 and the origin of the atypical cleavage (C2-C3 instead of C1-C2) pattern exhibited by this enzyme in the reaction of α-keto acids with dioxygen. The reduced charge of the 3His triad induces α-keto acid binding as the enolate dianion, rather than the keto monoanion, found for α-keto acid binding to the 2His/1 carboxylate facial triad enzymes. The mechanistic insight from the reactivity of Dke1 with the α-keto acid substrate is then extended to understand the reaction mechanism of this enzyme with its native substrate, acac. This study defines a key role for the 2His/1 carboxylate facial triad in α-keto acid-dependent mononuclear nonheme iron enzymes in stabilizing the bound α-keto acid as a monoanion for its decarboxylation to provide the two additional electrons required for O(2) activation.

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