Structural Basis for Specificity and Flexibility in a Plant 4-Coumarate:CoA Ligase

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Summary Plant 4-coumarate:CoA ligase (4CL) serves as a central catalyst in the phenylpropanoid pathway that provides precursors for numerous metabolites and regulates carbon flow. Here, we present several high-resolution crystal structures of Nicotiana tabacum 4CL isoform 2 (Nt4CL2) in complex with Mg 2+ and ATP, with AMP and coenzyme A (CoA), and with three different hydroxycinnamate-AMP intermediates: 4-coumaroyl-AMP, caffeoyl-AMP, and feruloyl-AMP. The Nt4CL2-Mg 2+ -ATP structure is captured in the adenylate-forming conformation, whereas the other structures are in the thioester-forming conformation. These structures represent a rare example of an ANL enzyme visualized in both conformations, and also reveal the binding determinants for both CoA and the hydroxycinnamate substrate. Kinetic studies of structure-based variants were used to identify residues crucial to catalysis, ATP binding, and hydroxycinnamate specificity. Lastly, we characterize a deletion mutant of Nt4CL2 that possesses the unusual sinapinate-utilizing activity. These studies establish a molecular framework for the engineering of this versatile biocatalyst.




Li, Z., & Nair, S. K. (2015). Structural Basis for Specificity and Flexibility in a Plant 4-Coumarate:CoA Ligase. Structure, 23(11), 2032–2042.

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