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Acc Chem Res. 2014 Dec 16;47(12):3588-95. doi: 10.1021/ar500290r. Epub 2014 Oct 23.

Connecting lipoxygenase function to structure by electron paramagnetic resonance.

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Department of Biological Science, Florida State University , Tallahassee, Florida 32306-4295, United States.


Lipoxygenase enzymes insert oxygen in a polyunsaturated lipid, yielding a hydroperoxide product. When the acyl chain is arachidonate, with three cis-pentadiene units, 12 positionally and stereochemically different products might result. The plant lipids, linoleate and linolenate, have, respectively, four and eight potential oxygen insertion sites. The puzzle of how specificity is achieved in these reactions grows as more and more protein structures confirm the conservation of a lipoxygenase protein fold in plants, animals, and bacteria. Lipoxygenases are large enough (60-100 kDa) that they provide a protein shell completely surrounding an active site cavity that has the shape of a long acyl chain and contains a catalytic metal (usually iron). This Account summarizes electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopic, and other, experiments designed to bridge the gap between lipid-lipoxygenase interactions in solution and crystal structures. Experiments with spin-labeled lipids give a picture of bound lipids tethered to protein by an acyl chain, but with a polar end emerging from the cavity to solvent exposure, where the headgroup is highly flexible. The location of a spin on the polar end of a lysolecithin was determined by pulsed, dipolar EPR measurements, by representing the protein structure as a five-point grid of spin-labels with coordinates derived from 10 distance determinations between spin pairs. Distances from the lipid spin to each grid site completed a six-point representation of the enzyme with a bound lipid. Insight into the dynamics that allow substrate/product to enter/exit the cavity was obtained with a different set of spin-labeled protein mutants. Once substrate enters the cavity, the rate-limiting step of catalysis involves redox cycling at the metal center. Here, a mononuclear iron cycles between ferric and ferrous (high-spin) forms. Two helices provide pairs of side-chain ligands to the iron, resulting in characteristic EPR signals. Quantitative comparison of EPR spectra of plant and bacterial lipoxygenases has suggested conservation of a unique geometry of lipoxygenase iron centers. High frequency (94 GHz) EPR is consistent with a similar metal center in a manganese version of lipoxygenase. Overall, established and emerging EPR experiments have been developed and applied to the lipoxygenase family of enzymes to elucidate changes in the solution structures that are related to function.

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