A Methylidene Group in the Phosphonic Acid Analogue of Phenylalanine Reverses the Enantiopreference of Binding to Phenylalanine Ammonia-Lyases

Adv Synth Catal. 2017 Jun 19;359(12):2109-2120. doi: 10.1002/adsc.201700428. Epub 2017 May 19.


Aromatic amino acid ammonia-lyases and aromatic amino acid 2,3-aminomutases contain the post-translationally formed prosthetic 3,5-dihydro-4-methylidene-5H-imidazol-5-one (MIO) group. MIO enzymes catalyze the stereoselective synthesis of α- or β-amino acid enantiomers, making these chemical processes environmentally friendly and affordable. Characterization of novel inhibitors enables structural understanding of enzyme mechanism and recognizes promising herbicide candidates as well. The present study found that both enantiomers of the aminophosphonic acid analogue of the natural substrate phenylalanine and a novel derivative bearing a methylidene at the β-position inhibited phenylalanine ammonia-lyases (PAL), representing MIO enzymes. X-ray methods unambiguously determined the absolute configuration of all tested enantiomers during their synthesis. Enzyme kinetic measurements revealed the enantiomer of the methylidene-substituted substrate analogue as being a mirror image relation to the natural l-phenylalanine as the strongest inhibitor. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) confirmed the binding constants and provided a detailed analysis of the thermodynamic driving forces of ligand binding. Molecular docking suggested that binding of the (R)- and (S)-enantiomers is possible by a mirror image packing.

Keywords: MIO enzymes; amino acids; aminophosphonic acids; bioinformatics; calorimetry; enzyme inhibition.