• 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.