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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dissection of the EntF condensation domain boundary and active site residues in nonribosomal peptide synthesis.

Nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) make many natural products of clinical importance, but a deeper understanding of the protein domains that compose NRPS assembly lines is required before these megasynthetases can be effectively engineered to produce novel drugs. The N-terminal amide bond-forming condensation (C) domain of the enterobactin NRPS EntF was excised from the multidomain synthetase using endpoints determined from sequence alignments and secondary structure predictions. The isolated domain was well-folded when compared by circular dichroism to the vibriobactin NRPS VibH, a naturally free-standing C domain. The EntF domain was also fully functional in an assay based on a synthetic small-molecule substrate, seryl N-acetylcysteamine. Active site mutants of the EntF C domain were surprisingly inactive in vitro as compared to their VibH counterparts, yet maintained the overall domain structure. An in vivo assay was developed in the context of the full-length EntF protein to more sensitively probe the activity level of the C domain mutants, and this supported strong effects for the active site mutations. The crucial role of histidine-138 was confirmed by assay of the full-length protein in vitro. These results suggest a strong resemblance of catalysis by the EntF C domain to chloramphenicol acetyltransferase, including an active site organized by an arginine-aspartate salt bridge, a key histidine acting as a general base, and an asparagine instead of a serine stabilizing the proposed tetrahedral intermediate by hydrogen bonding. The precise definition of a functional C domain excised from a NRPS should aid efforts at swapping NRPS domains between assembly lines.[1]


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