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

A synthetic module for the metH gene permits facile mutagenesis of the cobalamin-binding region of Escherichia coli methionine synthase: initial characterization of seven mutant proteins.

Cobalamin-dependent methionine synthase from Escherichia coli is a monomeric 136 kDa protein composed of multiple functional regions. The X-ray structure of the cobalamin-binding region of methionine synthase reveals that the cofactor is sandwiched between an alpha-helical domain that contacts the upper face of the cobalamin and an alpha/beta (Rossmann) domain that interacts with the lower face. An unexpected conformational change accompanies binding of the methylcobalamin cofactor. The dimethylbenzimidazole ligand to the lower axial position of the cobalt in the free cofactor is displaced by histidine 759 from the Rossmann domain [Drennan, C. L., Huang, S., Drummond, J. T., Matthews, R. G., & Ludwig, M. L. (1994) Science 266, 1669]. In order to facilitate studies of the roles of amino acid residues in the cobalamin-binding region of methionine synthase, we have constructed a synthetic module corresponding to nucleotides (nt) 1741-2668 in the metH gene and incorporated it into the wild-type metH gene. This module contains unique restriction sites at approximately 80 base pair intervals and was synthesized by overlap extension of 22 synthetic oligonucleotides ranging in length from 70 to 105 nt and subsequent amplification using two sets of primers. Expression of methionine synthase from a plasmid containing the modified gene was shown to be unaffected by the introduction of the synthetic module. E. coli does not synthesize cobalamin, and overexpression of MetH holoenzyme requires accelerated cobalamin transport. Growth conditions are described that enable the production of holoenzyme rather than apoenzyme. We describe the construction and initial characterization of seven mutants. Four mutations (His759Gly, Asp757Glu, Asp757Asn, and Ser810Ala) alter residues in the hydrogen-bonded network His-Asp-Ser that connects the histidine ligand of the cobalt to solvent. Three mutations (Phe708Ala, Phe714Ala, and Leu715Ala) alter residues in the cap region that covers the upper face of the cobalamin. The His759Gly mutation has profound effects, essentially abolishing steady-state activity, while the Asp757, Ser810, Phe708, and Leu715 mutations lead to decreases in activity. These mutations asses the importance of individual residues in modulating cobalamin reactivity.[1]


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