Dual binding sites for translocation catalysis by Escherichia coli glutathionylspermidine synthetase

EMBO J. 2006 Dec 13;25(24):5970-82. doi: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601440. Epub 2006 Nov 23.


Most organisms use glutathione to regulate intracellular thiol redox balance and protect against oxidative stress; protozoa, however, utilize trypanothione for this purpose. Trypanothione biosynthesis requires ATP-dependent conjugation of glutathione (GSH) to the two terminal amino groups of spermidine by glutathionylspermidine synthetase (GspS) and trypanothione synthetase (TryS), which are considered as drug targets. GspS catalyzes the penultimate step of the biosynthesis-amide bond formation between spermidine and the glycine carboxylate of GSH. We report herein five crystal structures of Escherichia coli GspS in complex with substrate, product or inhibitor. The C-terminal of GspS belongs to the ATP-grasp superfamily with a similar fold to the human glutathione synthetase. GSH is likely phosphorylated at one of two GSH-binding sites to form an acylphosphate intermediate that then translocates to the other site for subsequent nucleophilic addition of spermidine. We also identify essential amino acids involved in the catalysis. Our results constitute the first structural information on the biochemical features of parasite homologs (including TryS) that underlie their broad specificity for polyamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Amide Synthases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Amide Synthases / chemistry
  • Amide Synthases / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Catalysis
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dimerization
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Sequence Homology
  • Spermidine / metabolism
  • Static Electricity
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Phosphates
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Amide Synthases
  • glutathionylspermidine synthetase
  • Glutathione
  • Magnesium
  • Spermidine

Associated data

  • PDB/2IO7
  • PDB/2IO8
  • PDB/2IOA
  • PDB/2IOB