Mechanistic studies on class I polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) synthase from Ralstonia eutropha: class I and III synthases share a similar catalytic mechanism

Biochemistry. 2001 Jan 30;40(4):1011-9. doi: 10.1021/bi002219w.


The Class I and III polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) synthases from Ralstonia eutropha and Chromatium vinosum, respectively, catalyze the polymerization of beta-hydroxybutyryl-coenzyme A (HBCoA) to generate PHB. These synthases have different molecular weights, subunit composition, and kinetic properties. Recent studies with the C. vinosum synthase suggested that it is structurally homologous to bacterial lipases and allowed identification of active site residues important for catalysis [Jia, Y., Kappock, T. J., Frick, T., Sinskey, A. J., and Stubbe, J. (2000) Biochemistry 39, 3927-3936]. Sequence alignments between the Class I and III synthases revealed similar residues in the R. eutropha synthase. Site-directed mutants of these residues were prepared and examined using HBCoA and a terminally saturated trimer of HBCoA (sT-CoA) as probes. These studies reveal that the R. eutropha synthase possesses an essential catalytic dyad (C319-H508) in which the C319 is involved in covalent catalysis. A conserved Asp, D480, was shown not to be required for acylation of C319 by sT-CoA and is proposed to function as a general base catalyst to activate the hydroxyl of HBCoA for ester formation. Studies of the [(3)H]sT-CoA with wild-type and mutant synthases reveal that 0.5 equiv of radiolabel is covalently bound per monomer of synthase, suggesting that a dimeric form of the enzyme is involved in elongation. These studies, in conjunction with search algorithms for secondary structure, suggest that the Class I and III synthases are mechanistically similar and structurally homologous, despite their physical and kinetic differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Coenzyme A / chemical synthesis
  • Acyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Acyltransferases / chemistry*
  • Acyltransferases / classification*
  • Acyltransferases / genetics
  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Catalysis
  • Chromatium / enzymology
  • Cupriavidus necator / enzymology*
  • Cupriavidus necator / genetics
  • Dimerization
  • Enzyme Activation / genetics
  • Kinetics
  • Peptide Chain Elongation, Translational / genetics
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tritium


  • Acyl Coenzyme A
  • Tritium
  • 3-hydroxybutyryl-coenzyme A
  • Acyltransferases
  • poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate polymerase