Human deoxyhypusine hydroxylase, an enzyme involved in regulating cell growth, activates O2 with a nonheme diiron center

Van V. Vu, Joseph P. Emerson, Marlène Martinho, Sook Kim Yeon, Eckard Münck, Hee Park Myung, Lawrence Que

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Deoxyhypusine hydroxylase is the key enzyme in the biosynthesis of hypusine containing eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A (eIF5A), which plays an essential role in the regulation of cell proliferation. Recombinant human deoxyhypusine hydroxylase (hDOHH) has been reported to have oxygen- and iron-dependent activity, an estimated iron/holoprotein stoichiometry of 2, and a visible band at 630 nm responsible for the blue color of the as-isolated protein. EPR, Mössbauer, and XAS spectroscopic results presented herein provide direct spectroscopic evidence that hDOHH has an antiferromagnetically coupled diiron center with histidines and carboxylates as likely ligands, as suggested by mutagenesis experiments. Resonance Raman experiments show that its blue chromophore arises from a (μ-1,2-peroxo)diiron(III) center that forms in the reaction of the reduced enzyme with O2, so the peroxo form of hDOHH is unusually stable. Nevertheless we demonstrate that it can carry out the hydroxylation of the deoxyhypusine residue present in the elF5A substrate. Despite a lack of sequence similarity, hDOHH has a nonheme diiron active site that resembles both in structure and function those found in methane and toluene monooxygenases, bacterial and mammalian ribonucleotide reductases, and stearoyl acyl carrier protein Δ9-desaturase from plants, suggesting that the oxygen-activating diiron motif is a solution arrived at by convergent evolution. Notably, hDOHH is the only example thus far of a human hydroxylase with such a diiron active site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14814-14819
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009


  • DOHH
  • Oxygen activation
  • Peroxo intermediate
  • eIF5A


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