Studies toward the mechanism of allosteric activation in phenylalanine hydroxylase
Soltau, Sarah Rose
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Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH, EC: 126.96.36.199) is a non-heme iron tetrahydropterin-dependent monooxygenase that maintains phenylalanine (L-Phe) homeostasis via conversion of L-Phe to L-Tyr. PAH is an allosteric enzyme that converts from an inactive T-state to an active R-state upon addition of substrate, L-Phe. Allosteric activation is correlated with physical and structural changes within the enzyme and a large activation energy. Crystal structures of PAH have not identified the location of the allosteric effector binding site. Herein, we report computational protein mapping efforts using the FTmap algorithm and experimental site-directed mutagenesis studies designed to define and screen possible L-Phe allosteric binding sites. Mass spectroscopic analysis of PAH proteolytic fragments obtained after photo-crosslinking with 2-azido-3-phenylpropanoate overlapped with one computationally derived allosteric binding pocket containing residues 110-120 and 312-317. Ligand docking studies, fluorescence measurements, binding affinity and activity assays on wild-type and mutant enzymes further characterized the shape and specificity of this pocket. Thermodynamic studies using surface acoustic wave (SAW) biosensing determined the affinity of L-Phe for the allosteric site. Two L-Phe binding sites were observed upon SAW titrations, corresponding to the active and allosteric sites respectively ( K D,app^on 113 ± 12 µM active site, K D,app^on 680 ± 20 µM allosteric site). Site-directed mutagenesis was performed to prepare mutant enzymes containing a single tryptophan (L-Trp) residue. The fluorescence signatures of each of the three native L-Trp residues in PAH were determined by titrations with L-Phe. Trp187 primarily reports L-Phe induced allosteric conformational changes, while Trp120 reports active site L-Phe binding. Trp326 reports small signals of both active and allosteric site changes. Variable temperature stopped-flow fluorescence kinetic studies elucidated a working mechanism for L-Phe allosteric activation of PAH. Fluorescent signals from wild-type, single, and double L-Trp PAH mutants have been used to build kinetic mechanisms for the L-Phe binding in each subunit and subsequent active site reorganization or allosteric conformational change. In these mechanisms, the enzyme has reduced activity (1-2% of wtPAH) until both L-Phe induced active and allosteric site conformational changes have occurred. Failure of either activation step prevents enzyme turnover and is the chemical-based cause of the metabolic condition phenylketonuria.