The first holocomplex structure of ribonucleotide reductase gives new insight into its mechanism of action

J Mol Biol. 2006 Jun 2;359(2):365-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2006.03.035. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


Ribonucleotide reductase is an indispensable enzyme for all cells, since it catalyses the biosynthesis of the precursors necessary for both building and repairing DNA. The ribonucleotide reductase class I enzymes, present in all mammals as well as in many prokaryotes and DNA viruses, are composed mostly of two homodimeric proteins, R1 and R2. The reaction involves long-range radical transfer between the two proteins. Here, we present the first crystal structure of a ribonucleotide reductase R1/R2 holocomplex. The biological relevance of this complex is based on the binding of the R2 C terminus in the hydrophobic cleft of R1, an interaction proven to be crucial for enzyme activity, and by the fact that all conserved amino acid residues in R2 are facing the R1 active sites. We suggest that the asymmetric R1/R2 complex observed in the 4A crystal structure of Salmonella typhimurium ribonucleotide reductase represents an intermediate stage in the reaction cycle, and at the moment of reaction the homodimers transiently form a tight symmetric complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dimerization
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary*
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / chemistry*
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / genetics
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / metabolism*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / enzymology*
  • Sequence Alignment


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases

Associated data

  • PDB/2BQ1