An active site model of the amine:pyruvate aminotransferase (APA) from Vibrio fluvialis JS17 was constructed on the basis of the relationship between substrate structure and reactivity. Due to the broad substrate specificity of the APA, various amino donors (chiral and achiral amine, amino acid, and amino acid derivative) and amino acceptors (keto acid, keto ester, aldehyde, and ketone) were used to explore the active site structure. The result suggested a two-binding site model consisting of two pockets, one large (L) and the other small (S). The difference in the size of each binding pocket and strong repulsion for a carboxylate in the S pocket were key determinants to control its substrate specificity and stereoselectivity. The L pocket showed dual recognition mode for both hydrophobic and carboxyl groups as observed in the side-chain pockets of aspartate aminotransferase and aromatic aminotransferase. Comparison of the model with those of other aminotransferases revealed that the L and S pockets corresponded to carboxylate trap and side- chain pocket, respectively. The active site model successfully explains the observed substrate specificity as well as the stereoselectivity of the APA.
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