The C-terminal flexible region of branched-chain polyamine synthase facilitates substrate specificity and catalysis

FEBS J. 2019 Oct;286(19):3926-3940. doi: 10.1111/febs.14949. Epub 2019 Jun 21.


Branched-chain polyamine synthase (BpsA) catalyzes sequential aminopropyl transfer from the donor, decarboxylated S-adenosylmethionine (dcSAM), to the acceptor, linear-chain polyamine, resulting in the production of a quaternary-branched polyamine via tertiary branched polyamine intermediates. Here, we analyzed the catalytic properties and X-ray crystal structure of Tth-BpsA from Thermus thermophilus and compared them with those of Tk-BpsA from Thermococcus kodakarensis, which revealed differences in acceptor substrate specificity and C-terminal structure between these two enzymes. To investigate the role of the C-terminal flexible region in acceptor recognition, a region (QDEEATTY) in Tth-BpsA was replaced with that in Tk-BpsA (YDDEESSTT) to create chimeric Tth-BpsA C9, which showed a severe reduction in catalytic efficiency toward N4 -aminopropylnorspermidine, but not toward N4 -aminopropylspermidine, mimicking Tk-BpsA substrate specificity. Tth-BpsA C9 Tyr346 and Thr354 contributed to discrimination between tertiary branched-chain polyamine substrates, suggesting that the C-terminal region of BpsA recognizes acceptor substrates. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis on a Tk-BpsA reaction mixture with dcSAM revealed two aminopropyl groups bound to two of five aspartate/glutamate residues (Glu339 , Asp342 , Asp343 , Glu344 , and Glu345 ) in the C-terminal flexible region. Mutating each of these five amino acid residues to asparagine/glutamine resulted in a slight decrease in activity. The quadruple mutant D342N/D343N/E344Q/E345Q exhibited a severe reduction in catalytic efficiency, suggesting that these aspartate/glutamate residues function to receive aminopropyl chains. In addition, the X-ray crystal structure of the Tk-BpsA ternary complex bound to N4 -bis(aminopropyl)spermidine revealed that Asp126 and Glu259 interacted with the aminopropyl moiety in N4 -aminopropylspermidine.

Keywords: branched-chain polyamine; crystal structure; enzyme mechanism; thermophile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Polyamines / metabolism*
  • Spermidine Synthase / chemistry
  • Spermidine Synthase / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Thermococcus / enzymology
  • Thermus thermophilus / enzymology


  • Polyamines
  • Spermidine Synthase