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J Biol Chem. 1993 Aug 25;268(24):17781-6.

Isotope effects and alternative substrate reactivities for tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase.

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  • 1Glaxo Research Institute, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709.


Tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (EC is a hemoprotein which catalyzes the first step in the oxidative degradation of tryptophan. The reaction is believed to proceed by addition of O2 across the 2,3-bond of the indole ring, followed by decomposition of the resultant dioxetane to give N-formylkynurenine. A primary D2O isotope effect of 4.4 on Vmax/Km was observed at the pH optimum, pH 7.0. This implies that abstraction of the indole proton is at least partially rate-determining. An inverse secondary isotope effect of 0.96 was observed for L-[2-3H]tryptophan at this pH. The secondary isotope effect signals the formation of the C-O bond at C-2. As the rate of proton abstraction increased with increasing pH, the D2O isotope effect decreased to 1.2 at pH 8.5 and the secondary isotope effect increased to 0.92. The rate-determining steps therefore change with increasing pH, and bond formation at C-2 becomes more rate-limiting. The secondary isotope effect did not change significantly with varying O2 concentration so that substrate binding is primarily ordered with O2 binding first. The specificity of the enzyme towards substituted tryptophans shows that substitution of the phenyl ring of the indole is sterically unfavorable. Steric hindrance is highest at the 4- and 7-positions, while the 5- and 6-positions are less sensitive. 6-Fluoro-L-tryptophan was more reactive than tryptophan, and the increased reactivity can be explained by an electronic effect that enhances of the rate of C-O bond formation at C-2.

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