Significant catalytic roles for Glu47 and Gln 110 in all four of the C-C bond-making and -breaking steps of the reactions of acetohydroxyacid synthase II

Maria Vyazmensky, Andrea Steinmetz, Danilo Meyer, Ralph Golbik, Ze'Ev Barak, Kai Tittmann, David M. Chipman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Acetohydroxy acid synthase (AHAS) is a thiamin diphosphate (ThDP)-dependent enzyme that catalyzes the first common step in the biosynthesis of branched-chain amino acids, condensation of pyruvate with a second 2-ketoacid to form either acetolactate or acetohydroxybutyrate. AHAS isozyme II from Escherichia coli is specific for pyruvate as the first donor substrate but exhibits a 60-fold higher specificity for 2-ketobutyrate (2-KB) over pyruvate as an acceptor substrate. In previous studies relying on steady state and transient kinetics, substrate competition and detailed analysis of the distribution of intermediates in the steady-state, we have identified several residues which confer specificity for the donor and acceptor substrates, respectively. Here, we examine the roles of active site polar residues Glu47, Gln110, Lys159, and His251 for elementary steps of catalysis using similar approaches. While Glu47, the conserved essential glutamate conserved in all ThDP-dependent enzymes whose carboxylate is in H-bonding distance of the ThDP iminopyrimidine N1′, is involved as expected in cofactor activation, substrate binding, and product elimination, our studies further suggest a crucial catalytic role for it in the carboligation of the acceptor and the hydroxyethyl-ThDP enamine intermediate. The Glu47-cofactor proton shuttle acts in concert with Gln110 in the carboligation. We suggest that either the transient oxyanion on the acceptor carbonyl is stabilized by H-bonding to the glutamine side chain, or carboligation involves glutamine tautomerization and the elementary reactions of addition and protonation occur in a concerted manner. This is in contrast to the situation in other ThDP enzymes that catalyze a carboligation, such as, e.g., transketolase or benzaldehyde lyase, where histidines act as general acid/base catalysts. Our studies further suggest global catalytic roles for Gln110 and Glu47, which are engaged in all major bond-breaking and bond-making steps. In contrast to earlier suggestions, Lys159 has a minor effect on the kinetics and specificity of AHAS II, far less than does Arg276, previously shown to influence the specificity for a 2-ketoacid as a second substrate. His251 has a large effect on donor substrate binding, but this effect masks any other effects of replacement of His251.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3250-3260
Number of pages11
Issue number15
StatePublished - 19 Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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