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Biochemistry. 1997 Jan 7;36(1):127-38.

Interaction of Escherichia coli cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase and its physiological partner flavodoxin: binding of flavodoxin leads to axial ligand dissociation from the cobalamin cofactor.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1055, USA.


Cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase from Escherichia coli catalyzes the last step in de novo methionine biosynthesis. Conversion of the inactive cob(II)alamin form of the enzyme, formed by the occasional oxidation of cob(I)alamin during turnover, to an active methylcobalamin-containing form requires a reductive methylation of the cofactor in which an electron is supplied by reduced flavodoxin and the methyl group is derived from S-adenosyl-L-methionine. E. coli flavodoxin acts specifically in this activation reaction, and neither E. coli ferredoxin nor flavodoxin from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus will substitute, despite their highly similar midpoint potentials for one-electron transfer. As assessed by EPR spectroscopy, the binding of flavodoxin to cob(II)alamin methionine synthase results in a change in the coordination geometry of the cobalt from five-coordinate to four-coordinate. Histidine 759 of methionine synthase, which replaces the normal lower ligand dimethylbenzimidazole on binding of methylcobalamin to methionine synthase, is dissociated from the cobalt of the cobalamin by the binding of flavodoxin. The association of flavodoxin and methionine synthase depends on ionic strength and pH; the pH dependence corresponds to the uptake of one proton on association. The formation of a complex between flavodoxin and methionine synthase perturbs the midpoint potentials of the flavin and cobalamin cofactors only marginally and without any significant thermodynamic advantage for electron transfer to the cobalamin of methionine synthase. No significant binding was seen between oxidized flavodoxin and methylcobalamin methionine synthase. A model for the interaction of methionine synthase with flavodoxin is proposed in which flavodoxin binding leads to changes in the distribution of methionine synthase conformations.

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