The Journal of biological chemistry

4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase catalysis: identification of catalytic residues and production of a hydroxylated intermediate shared with a structurally unrelated enzyme.

PMID 21613226


4-Hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) catalyzes the conversion of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate (HPP) into homogentisate. HPPD is the molecular target of very effective synthetic herbicides. HPPD inhibitors may also be useful in treating life-threatening tyrosinemia type I and are currently in trials for treatment of Parkinson disease. The reaction mechanism of this key enzyme in both plants and animals has not yet been fully elucidated. In this study, using site-directed mutagenesis supported by quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical theoretical calculations, we investigated the role of catalytic residues potentially interacting with the substrate/intermediates. These results highlight the following: (i) the central role of Gln-272, Gln-286, and Gln-358 in HPP binding and the first nucleophilic attack; (ii) the important movement of the aromatic ring of HPP during the reaction, and (iii) the key role played by Asn-261 and Ser-246 in C1 hydroxylation and the final ortho-rearrangement steps (numbering according to the Arabidopsis HPPD crystal structure 1SQD). Furthermore, this study reveals that the last step of the catalytic reaction, the 1,2 shift of the acetate side chain, which was believed to be unique to the HPPD activity, is also catalyzed by a structurally unrelated enzyme.

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Homogentisic acid, crystalline