Transition state stabilization and α-amino carbon acidity in alanine racemase

Dan T. Major, Kwangho Nam, Jiali Gao

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Combined QM/MM simulations have been carried out to investigate the origin of the carbon acidity enhancement in the alanine racemization reaction catalyzed by alanine racemase (AlaR). The present studies show that enhancement of carbon acidity of α-amino acids by cofactor pyridoxal 5α-phosphate, PLP, with an unusual, unprotonated pyridine is due to solvation effects, in contrast to the intrinsic electron-withdrawing stabilization by the pyridinium ion to form a quinonoid intermediate. Alanine racemase further lowers the α-proton acidity and provides an overall 14-17 kcal/mol transition state stabilization. Our computational results are consistent with the hypothesis that the use of the unusual form of PLP cofactor in AlaR is to raise the free energy of the intermediate, thereby increasing the reprotonation rate and enhancing the enzyme selectivity for racemization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8114-8115
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 28 2006


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