Computational engineering of previously crystallized pyruvate formate-lyase activating enzyme reveals insights into SAM binding and reductive cleavage.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Biol Chem, p.104791 (2023)


<p>Radical S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) enzymes are ubiquitous in nature and carry out a broad variety of difficult chemical transformations initiated by hydrogen atom abstraction. Although numerous radical SAM (RS) enzymes have been structurally characterized, many prove recalcitrant to crystallization needed for atomic-level structure determination using X-ray crystallography, and even those that have been crystallized for an initial study can be difficult to recrystallize for further structural work. We present here a method for computationally engineering previously observed crystallographic contacts and employ it to obtain more reproducible crystallization of the RS enzyme pyruvate formate-lyase activating enzyme (PFL-AE). We show that the computationally engineered variant binds a typical RS [4Fe-4S] cluster that binds SAM, with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) properties indistinguishable from the native PFL-AE. The variant also retains the typical PFL-AE catalytic activity, as evidenced by the characteristic glycyl radical EPR signal observed upon incubation of the PFL-AE variant with reducing agent, SAM, and PFL. The PFL-AE variant was also crystallized in the [4Fe-4S] state with SAM bound, providing a new high-resolution structure of the SAM complex in the absence of substrate. Finally, by incubating such a crystal in a solution of sodium dithionite, the reductive cleavage of SAM is triggered, providing us with a structure in which the SAM cleavage products 5&#39;-deoxyadenosine and methionine are bound in the active site. We propose that the methods described herein may be useful in the structural characterization of other difficult-to-resolve proteins.</p>