• Crystal structure of the heme d1 biosynthesis enzyme NirE in complex with its substrate reveals new insights into the catalytic mechanism of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent uroporphyrinogen III methyltransferases.

      Storbeck, Sonja; Saha, Sayantan; Krausze, Joern; Klink, Björn U; Heinz, Dirk W; Layer, Gunhild; Institute of Microbiology, Technische Universität Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-07-29)
      During the biosynthesis of heme d(1), the essential cofactor of cytochrome cd(1) nitrite reductase, the NirE protein catalyzes the methylation of uroporphyrinogen III to precorrin-2 using S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) as the methyl group donor. The crystal structure of Pseudomonas aeruginosa NirE in complex with its substrate uroporphyrinogen III and the reaction by-product S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (SAH) was solved to 2.0 Å resolution. This represents the first enzyme-substrate complex structure for a SAM-dependent uroporphyrinogen III methyltransferase. The large substrate binds on top of the SAH in a "puckered" conformation in which the two pyrrole rings facing each other point into the same direction either upward or downward. Three arginine residues, a histidine, and a methionine are involved in the coordination of uroporphyrinogen III. Through site-directed mutagenesis of the nirE gene and biochemical characterization of the corresponding NirE variants the amino acid residues Arg-111, Glu-114, and Arg-149 were identified to be involved in NirE catalysis. Based on our structural and biochemical findings, we propose a potential catalytic mechanism for NirE in which the methyl transfer reaction is initiated by an arginine catalyzed proton abstraction from the C-20 position of the substrate.
    • Polysaccharide synthesis of the levansucrase SacB from Bacillus megaterium is controlled by distinct surface motifs.

      Strube, Christian P; Homann, Arne; Gamer, Martin; Jahn, Dieter; Seibel, Jürgen; Heinz, Dirk W; Department of Molecular Structural Biology, Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research, Inhoffenstrasse 7B, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-05-20)
      Despite the widespread biological function of carbohydrates, the polysaccharide synthesis mechanisms of glycosyltransferases remain largely unexplored. Bacterial levansucrases (glycoside hydrolase family 68) synthesize high molecular weight, β-(2,6)-linked levan from sucrose by transfer of fructosyl units. The kinetic and biochemical characterization of Bacillus megaterium levansucrase SacB variants Y247A, Y247W, N252A, D257A, and K373A reveal novel surface motifs remote from the sucrose binding site with distinct influence on the polysaccharide product spectrum. The wild type activity (k(cat)) and substrate affinity (K(m)) are maintained. The structures of the SacB variants reveal clearly distinguishable subsites for polysaccharide synthesis as well as an intact active site architecture. These results lead to a new understanding of polysaccharide synthesis mechanisms. The identified surface motifs are discussed in the context of related glycosyltransferases.