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EMBO J. 1998 May 1;17(9):2463-71.

Crystal structure of human uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine, 50 N.Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.


Uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (URO-D) catalyzes the fifth step in the heme biosynthetic pathway, converting uroporphyrinogen to coproporphyrinogen by decarboxylating the four acetate side chains of the substrate. This activity is essential in all organisms, and subnormal activity of URO-D leads to the most common form of porphyria in humans, porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT). We have determined the crystal structure of recombinant human URO-D at 1.60 A resolution. The 40.8 kDa protein is comprised of a single domain containing a (beta/alpha)8-barrel with a deep active site cleft formed by loops at the C-terminal ends of the barrel strands. Many conserved residues cluster at this cleft, including the invariant side chains of Arg37, Arg41 and His339, which probably function in substrate binding, and Asp86, Tyr164 and Ser219, which may function in either binding or catalysis. URO-D is a dimer in solution (Kd = 0.1 microM), and this dimer also appears to be formed in the crystal. Assembly of the dimer juxtaposes the active site clefts of the monomers, suggesting a functionally important interaction between the catalytic centers.

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