Heme biosynthesis, a complex, multistage, and tightly controlled process, starts with 5-aminolevulinate (ALA) production, which, in metazoa and certain bacteria, is a reaction catalyzed by 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS), a pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzyme. Functional aberrations in ALAS are associated with several human diseases. ALAS can adopt open and closed conformations, with segmental rearrangements of a C-terminal, 16-amino acid loop and an α-helix regulating accessibility to the ALAS active site. Of the murine erythroid ALAS (mALAS2) forms previously engineered to assess the role of the flexible C-terminal loop versus mALAS2 function one stood out due to its impressive gain in catalytic power. To elucidate how the simultaneously introduced seven mutations of this activity-enhanced variant affected structural and dynamic properties of mALAS2, we conducted extensive molecular dynamics simulation analysis of the dimeric forms of wild-type mALAS2, hepta-variant and Rhodobacter capsulatus ALAS (aka R. capsulatus HemA). This analysis revealed that the seven simultaneous mutations in the C-terminal loop, which extends over the active site of the enzyme, caused the bacterial and murine proteins to adopt different conformations. Specifically, a new β-strand in the mutated 'loop' led to interaction with two preexisting β-strands and formation of an anti-parallel three-stranded β-sheet, which likely endowed the murine hepta-variant a more 'stable' open conformation than that of wild-type mALAS2, consistent with a kinetic mechanism involving a faster closed-to-open conformation transition and product release for the mutated than wild-type enzyme. Further, the dynamic behavior of the mALAS2 protomers was strikingly different in the two dimeric forms.
Keywords: 5-aminolevulinate synthase; active site loop; molecular dynamic.