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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 458571, 13 pages
Research Article

Structure-Based Mechanism for Early PLP-Mediated Steps of Rabbit Cytosolic Serine Hydroxymethyltransferase Reaction

1Dipartimento di Scienze Biochimiche, Sapienza Università di Roma, 00185 Roma, Italy
2Center for the Study of Biological Complexity and Institute for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery, Richmond, VA 23284-2030, USA
3Department of Biochemistry and Institute of Structural Biology and Drug Discovery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23219, USA

Received 6 June 2013; Accepted 26 June 2013

Academic Editor: Alessandro Paiardini

Copyright © 2013 Martino L. Di Salvo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Serine hydroxymethyltransferase catalyzes the reversible interconversion of L-serine and glycine with transfer of one-carbon groups to and from tetrahydrofolate. Active site residue Thr254 is known to be involved in the transaldimination reaction, a crucial step in the catalytic mechanism of all pyridoxal 5′-phosphate- (PLP-) dependent enzymes, which determines binding of substrates and release of products. In order to better understand the role of Thr254, we have expressed, characterized, and determined the crystal structures of rabbit cytosolic serine hydroxymethyltransferase T254A and T254C mutant forms, in the absence and presence of substrates. These mutants accumulate a kinetically stable gem-diamine intermediate, and their crystal structures show differences in the active site with respect to wild type. The kinetic and crystallographic data acquired with mutant enzymes permit us to infer that conversion of gem-diamine to external aldimine is significantly slowed because intermediates are trapped into an anomalous position by a misorientation of the PLP ring, and a new energy barrier hampers the transaldimination reaction. This barrier likely arises from the loss of the stabilizing hydrogen bond between the hydroxymethyl group of Thr254 and the ε-amino group of active site Lys257, which stabilizes the external aldimine intermediate in wild type SHMTs.