Cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase: probing the role of the axial base in catalysis of methyl transfer between methyltetrahydrofolate and exogenous cob(I)alamin or cob(I)inamide.

PMID 14661978


Cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase (MetH) catalyzes the transfer of methyl groups between methyltetrahydrofolate (CH(3)-H(4)folate) and homocysteine, with the enzyme-bound cobalamin serving as an intermediary in the methyl transfers. An MetH fragment comprising residues 2-649 contains modules that bind and activate CH(3)-H(4)folate and homocysteine and catalyze methyl transfers to and from exogenous cobalamin. Comparison of the rates of reaction of cobalamin, which contains a dimethylbenzimidazole nucleotide coordinated to the cobalt in the lower axial position, and cobinamide, which lacks the dimethylbenzimidazole nucleotide, allows assessment of the degree of stabilization the dimethylbenzimidazole base provides for methyl transfer between CH(3)-H(4)folate bound to MetH(2-649) and exogenous cob(I)alamin. When the reactions of cob(I)alamin or cob(I)inamide with CH(3)-H(4)folate are compared, the observed second-order rate constants are 2.7-fold faster for cob(I)alamin; in the reverse direction, methylcobinamide reacts 35-fold faster than methylcobalamin with enzyme-bound tetrahydrofolate. These measurements can be used to estimate the influence of the dimethylbenzimidazole ligand on both the thermodynamics and kinetics of methyl transfer between methyltetrahydrofolate and cob(I)alamin or cob(I)inamide. The free energy change for methyl transfer from CH(3)-H(4)folate to cob(I)alamin is 2.8 kcal more favorable than that for methyl transfer to cob(I)inamide. Dimethylbenzimidazole contributes approximately 0.6 kcal/mol of stabilization for the forward reaction and approximately 2.2 kcal/mol of destabilization for the reverse reaction. Binding of methylcobalamin to full-length methionine synthase is accompanied by ligand substitution, and switching between "base-on" and "base-off" states of the cofactor has been demonstrated [Bandarian, V., et al. (2003) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 8156-8163]. The present results disfavor a major role for such switching in catalysis of methyl transfer, and are consistent with the hypothesis that the primary role of the ligand triad in methionine synthase is controlling the distribution of enzyme conformations during catalysis.