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Biochemistry. 1988 Aug 9;27(16):5948-60.

Triosephosphate isomerase: removal of a putatively electrophilic histidine residue results in a subtle change in catalytic mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


An important active-site residue in the glycolytic enzyme triosephosphate isomerase is His-95, which appears to act as an electrophilic component in catalyzing the enolization of the substrates. With the techniques of site-directed mutagenesis, His-95 has been replaced by Gln in the isomerase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The mutant isomerase has been expressed in Escherichia coli strain DF502 and purified to homogeneity. The specific catalytic activity of the mutant enzyme is less than that of wild type by a factor of nearly 400. The mutant enzyme can be resolved from the wild-type isomerase on nondenaturing isoelectric focusing gels, and an isomerase activity stain shows that the observed catalytic activity indeed derives from the mutant protein. The inhibition constants for arsenate and for glycerol phosphate with the mutant enzyme are similar to those with the wild-type isomerase, but the substrate analogues 2-phosphoglycolate and phosphoglycolohydroxamate bind 8- and 35-fold, respectively, more weakly to the mutant isomerase. The mutant enzyme shows the same stereospecificity of proton transfer as the wild type. Tritium exchange experiments similar to those used to define the free energy profile for the wild-type yeast isomerase, together with a new method of analysis involving 14C and 3H doubly labeled substrates, have been used to investigate the energetics of the mutant enzyme catalyzed reaction. When the enzymatic reaction is conducted in tritiated solvent, the mutant isomerase does not catalyze any appreciable exchange between protons of the remaining substrate and those of the solvent either in the forward reaction direction (using dihydroxyacetone phosphate as substrate) or in the reverse direction (using glyceraldehyde phosphate as substrate). However, the specific radioactivity of the product glyceraldehyde phosphate formed in the forward reaction is 31% that of the solvent, while that of the product dihydroxyacetone phosphate formed in the reverse reaction is 24% that of the solvent. The deuterium kinetic isotope effects observed with the mutant isomerase using [1(R)-2H]dihydroxyacetone phosphate and [2-2H]glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate are 2.15 +/- 0.04 and 2.4 +/- 0.1, respectively. These results lead to the conclusion that substitution of Gln for His-95 so impairs the ability of the enzyme to stabilize the reaction intermediate that there is a change in the pathways of proton transfer mediated by the mutant enzyme. The data allow us more closely to define the role of His-95 in the reaction catalyzed by the wild-type enzyme, while forcing us to be alert to subtle changes in mechanistic pathways when mutant enzymes are generated.

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