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J Biol Chem. 1988 Nov 25;263(33):17857-71.

Three-dimensional structure of the tryptophan synthase alpha 2 beta 2 multienzyme complex from Salmonella typhimurium.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The three-dimensional structure of the alpha 2 beta 2 complex of tryptophan synthase from Salmonella typhimurium has been determined by x-ray crystallography at 2.5 A resolution. The four polypeptide chains are arranged nearly linearly in an alpha beta beta alpha order forming a complex 150 A long. The overall polypeptide fold of the smaller alpha subunit, which cleaves indole glycerol phosphate, is that of an 8-fold alpha/beta barrel. The alpha subunit active site has been located by difference Fourier analysis of the binding of indole propanol phosphate, a competitive inhibitor of the alpha subunit and a close structural analog of the natural substrate. The larger pyridoxal phosphate-dependent beta subunit contains two domains of nearly equal size, folded into similar helix/sheet/helix structures. The binding site for the coenzyme pyridoxal phosphate lies deep within the interface between the two beta subunit domains. The active sites of neighboring alpha and beta subunits are separated by a distance of about 25 A. A tunnel with a diameter matching that of the intermediate substrate indole connects these active sites. The tunnel is believed to facilitate the diffusion of indole from its point of production in the alpha subunit active site to the site of tryptophan synthesis in the beta active site and thereby prevent its escape to the solvent during catalysis.

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