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Biochemistry. 1994 Jan 25;33(3):635-43.

The role of lysine 166 in the mechanism of mandelate racemase from Pseudomonas putida: mechanistic and crystallographic evidence for stereospecific alkylation by (R)-alpha-phenylglycidate.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park 20742.


The mechanism of irreversible inactivation of mandelate racemase (MR) from Pseudomonas putida by alpha-phenylglycidate (alpha PGA) has been investigated stereochemically and crystallographically. The (R) and (S) enantiomers of alpha PGA were synthesized in high enantiomeric excess (81% ee and 83% ee, respectively) using Sharpless epoxidation chemistry. (R)-alpha PGA was determined to be a stereospecific and stoichiometric irreversible inactivator of MR. (S)-alpha PGA does not inactivate MR and appears to bind noncovalently to the active site of MR with less affinity than that of (R)-alpha PGA. The X-ray crystal structure (2.0-A resolution) of MR inactivated by (R)-alpha PGA revealed the presence of a covalent adduct formed by nucleophilic attack of the epsilon-amino group of Lys 166 on the distal carbon on the epoxide ring of (R)-alpha PGA. The proximity of the alpha-proton of (S)-mandelate to Lys 166 [configurationally equivalent to (R)-alpha PGA] was corroborated by the crystal structure (2.1-A resolution) of MR complexed with the substrate analog/competitive inhibitor, (S)-atrolactate [(S)-alpha-methylmandelate]. These results support the proposal that Lys 166 is the polyvalent acid/base responsible for proton transfers on the (S) face of mandelate. In addition, the high-resolution structures also provide insight into the probable interactions of mandelate with the essential Mg2+ and functional groups in the active site.

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