Spectroscopic studies of the Salmonella enterica adenosyltransferase enzyme SeCobA: molecular-level insight into the mechanism of substrate Cob(II)alamin activation

Biochemistry. 2014 Dec 23;53(50):7969-82. doi: 10.1021/bi5011877. Epub 2014 Dec 15.


CobA from Salmonella enterica (SeCobA) is a member of the family of ATP:Co(I)rrinoid adenosyltransferase (ACAT) enzymes that participate in the biosynthesis of adenosylcobalamin by catalyzing the transfer of the adenosyl group from an ATP molecule to a reactive Co(I)rrinoid species transiently generated in the enzyme active site. This reaction is thermodynamically challenging, as the reduction potential of the Co(II)rrinoid precursor in solution is far more negative than that of available reducing agents in the cell (e.g., flavodoxin), precluding nonenzymic reduction to the Co(I) oxidation state. However, in the active sites of ACATs, the Co(II)/Co(I) redox potential is increased by >250 mV via the formation of a unique four-coordinate (4c) Co(II)rrinoid species. In the case of the SeCobA ACAT, crystallographic and kinetic studies have revealed that the phenylalanine 91 (F91) and tryptophan 93 (W93) residues are critical for in vivo activity, presumably by blocking access to the lower axial ligand site of the Co(II)rrinoid substrate. To further assess the importance of the F91 and W93 residues with respect to enzymatic function, we have characterized various SeCobA active-site variants using electronic absorption, magnetic circular dichroism, and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopies. Our data provide unprecedented insight into the mechanism by which SeCobA converts the Co(II)rrinoid substrate to 4c species, with the hydrophobicity, size, and ability to participate in offset π-stacking interactions of key active-site residues all being critical for activity. The structural changes that occur upon Co(II)rrinoid binding also appear to be crucial for properly orienting the transiently generated Co(I) "supernucleophile" for rapid reaction with cosubstrate ATP.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / chemistry*
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Cobalt / chemistry*
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Salmonella typhimurium / enzymology*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Vitamin B 12 / chemistry*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cobalt
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • ATP-corrinoid adenosyltransferase
  • Vitamin B 12