5-Aminolevulinate Synthase Catalysis: The Catcher in Heme Biosynthesis

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5-aminolevulinate synthase, Heme, Porphyria, Porphyrin, Anemia, Pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, ALA5-aminolevulinic acid, 5-aminolevulinic acid, ALAS1non-specific isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase, non-specific isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase, ALAS2erythroid-specific isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase, erythroid-specific isoform of 5-aminolevulinate synthase, hALAS2erythroid-specific isoform of human 5-aminolevulinate synthase, erythroid-specific isoform of human 5-aminolevulinate synthase, mALAS2erythroid-specific isoform of murine 5-aminolevulinate synthase, erythroid-specific isoform of murine 5-aminolevulinate synthase, MDmolecular dynamics, molecular dynamics, PLPpyridoxal 5′-phosphate, pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, XLPPX-linked protoporphyria, X-linked protoporphyria, XLSAX-linked sideroblastic anemia, X-linked sideroblastic anemia

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5-Aminolevulinate (ALA) synthase (ALAS), a homodimeric pyridoxal-5′-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme, catalyzes the first step of heme biosynthesis in metazoa, fungi and α-proteobacteria. In this review, we focus on the advances made in unraveling the mechanism of the ALAS-catalyzed reaction during the past decade. The interplay between the PLP cofactor and the protein moiety determines and modulates the multi-intermediate reaction cycle of ALAS, which involves the decarboxylative condensation of two substrates, glycine and succinyl-CoA. Substrate binding and catalysis are rapid, and product (ALA) release dominates the overall ALAS kinetic mechanism. Interconversion between a catalytically incompetent, open conformation and a catalytically competent, closed conformation is linked to ALAS catalysis. Reversion to the open conformation, coincident with ALA dissociation, defines the slowest step of the reaction cycle. These findings were further substantiated by introducing seven mutations in the16-amino acid loop that gates the active site, yielding an ALAS variant with a greatly increased rate of catalytic turnover and heightened specificity constants for both substrates. Recently, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation analysis of various dimeric ALAS forms revealed that the seven active site loop mutations caused the proteins to adopt different conformations. In particular, the emergence of a β-strand in the mutated loop, which interacted with two preexisting β-strands to form an anti-parallel three-stranded β-sheet, conferred the murine heptavariant with a more stable open conformation and prompted faster product release than wild-type mALAS2. Moreover, the dynamics of the mALAS2 active site loop anti-correlated with that of the 35 amino acid C-terminal sequence. This led us to propose that this C-terminal extension, which is absent in prokaryotic ALASs, finely tunes mammalian ALAS activity. Based on the above results, we extend our previous proposal to include that discovery of a ligand inducing the mammalian C-terminal extension to fold offers a good prospect for the development of a new drug for X-linked protoporphyria and/or other porphyrias associated with enhanced ALAS activity and/or porphyrin accumulation.

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Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, v. 128, issue 3, p. 178-189