Little is currently known about the substrate binding site of the human UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) and the structural elements that affect their complex substrate selectivity. In order to further understand and extend our earlier findings with phenylalanines 90 and 93 of UGT1A10, we have replaced each of them with Gly, Ala, Val, Leu, Ile or Tyr, and tested the activity of the resulting 12 mutants toward eight different substrates. Apart from scopoletin glucuronidation, the F90 mutants other than F90L were nearly inactive, while the F93 mutants' activity was strongly substrate dependent. Hence, F93L displayed high entacapone and 1-naphthol glucuronidation rates, whereas F93G, which was nearly inactive in entacapone glucuronidation, was highly active toward estradiol, estriol and even ethinylestradiol, a synthetic estrogen that is a poor substrate for the wild-type UGT1A10. Kinetic analyses of 4-nitrophenol, estradiol and ethinylestradiol glucuronidation by the mutants that catalyzed the respective reactions at considerable rates, revealed increased K(m) values for 4-nitrophenol and estradiol in all the mutants, whilst the K(m) values of F93G and F93A for ethinylestradiol were lower than in control UGT1A10. Based on the activity results and a new molecular model of UGT1A10, it is suggested that both F90 and F93 are located in a surface helix at the far end of the substrate binding site. Nevertheless, only F93 directly affects the selectivity of UGT1A10 toward large and rigid estrogens, particularly those with substitutions at the D ring. The effects of F93 mutations on the glucuronidation of smaller or less rigid substrates are indirect, however.
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