Adenosylcobalamin (coenzyme B12) serves as the cofactor for a group of enzymes that catalyze unusual rearrangement or elimination reactions. The role of the cofactor as the initiator of reactive free radicals needed for these reactions is well established. Less clear is how these enzymes activate the coenzyme towards homolysis and control the radicals once generated. The availability of high resolution X-ray structures combined with detailed kinetic and spectroscopic analyses have allowed several adenosylcobalamin enzymes to be computationally modeled in some detail. Computer simulations have generally obtained good agreement with experimental data and provided valuable insight into the mechanisms of these unusual reactions. Importantly, atomistic modeling of the enzymes has allowed the role of specific interactions between protein, substrate and coenzyme to be explored, leading to mechanistic predictions that can now be tested experimentally. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Radical SAM enzymes and Radical Enzymology. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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