Arginine 60 in the ArsC arsenate reductase of E. coli plasmid R773 determines the chemical nature of the bound As(III) product

Protein Sci. 2004 Sep;13(9):2330-40. doi: 10.1110/ps.04787204. Epub 2004 Aug 4.


Arsenic is a ubiquitous environmental toxic metal. Consequently, organisms detoxify arsenate by reduction to arsenite, which is then excreted or sequestered. The ArsC arsenate reductase from Escherichia coli plasmid R773, the best characterized arsenic-modifying enzyme, has a catalytic cysteine, Cys 12, in the active site, surrounded by an arginine triad composed of Arg 60, Arg 94, and Arg 107. During the reaction cycle, the native enzyme forms a unique monohydroxyl Cys 12-thiol-arsenite adduct that contains a positive charge on the arsenic. We hypothesized previously that this unstable intermediate allows for rapid dissociation of the product arsenite. In this study, the role of Arg 60 in product formation was evaluated by mutagenesis. A total of eight new structures of ArsC were determined at resolutions between 1.3 A and 1.8 A, with R(free) values between 0.18 and 0.25. The crystal structures of R60K and R60A ArsC equilibrated with the product arsenite revealed a covalently bound Cys 12-thiol-dihydroxyarsenite without a charge on the arsenic atom. We propose that this intermediate is more stable than the monohydroxyarsenite intermediate of the native enzyme, resulting in slow release of product and, consequently, loss of activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / chemistry*
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Arsenates / chemistry
  • Arsenates / metabolism
  • Arsenic / chemistry
  • Arsenic / metabolism*
  • Arsenite Transporting ATPases
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Cysteine / genetics
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Ion Pumps / chemistry*
  • Ion Pumps / genetics
  • Ion Pumps / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multienzyme Complexes / chemistry*
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sulfates / chemistry
  • Sulfates / metabolism


  • Arsenates
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Ion Pumps
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Sulfates
  • Arginine
  • Arsenite Transporting ATPases
  • Cysteine
  • Arsenic
  • arsenic acid

Associated data

  • PDB/1S3C
  • PDB/1S3D
  • PDB/1SD8
  • PDB/1SD9
  • PDB/1SJZ
  • PDB/1SK0
  • PDB/1SK1
  • PDB/1SK2