The 2.4 A crystal structure of the vitamin B6-dependent enzyme 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC) synthase is described. This enzyme catalyses the committed step in the biosynthesis of ethylene, a plant hormone that is responsible for the initiation of fruit ripening and for regulating many other developmental processes. ACC synthase has 15 % sequence identity with the well-studied aspartate aminotransferase, and a completely different catalytic activity yet the overall folds and the active sites are very similar. The new structure together with available biochemical data enables a comparative mechanistic analysis that largely explains the catalytic roles of the conserved and non-conserved active site residues. An external aldimine reaction intermediate (external aldimine with ACC, i.e. with the product) has been modeled. The new structure provides a basis for the rational design of inhibitors with broad agricultural applications.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.