Biochemical properties of a Pseudomonas aminotransferase involved in caprolactam metabolism

FEBS J. 2019 Oct;286(20):4086-4102. doi: 10.1111/febs.14950. Epub 2019 Jun 25.


The biodegradation of the nylon-6 precursor caprolactam by a strain of Pseudomonas jessenii proceeds via ATP-dependent hydrolytic ring opening to 6-aminohexanoate. This non-natural ω-amino acid is converted to 6-oxohexanoic acid by an aminotransferase (PjAT) belonging to the fold type I pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) enzymes. To understand the structural basis of 6-aminohexanoatate conversion, we solved different crystal structures and determined the substrate scope with a range of aliphatic and aromatic amines. Comparison with the homologous aminotransferases from Chromobacterium violaceum (CvAT) and Vibrio fluvialis (VfAT) showed that the PjAT enzyme has the lowest KM values (highest affinity) and highest specificity constant (kcat /KM ) with the caprolactam degradation intermediates 6-aminohexanoate and 6-oxohexanoic acid, in accordance with its proposed in vivo function. Five distinct three-dimensional structures of PjAT were solved by protein crystallography. The structure of the aldimine intermediate formed from 6-aminohexanoate and the PLP cofactor revealed the presence of a narrow hydrophobic substrate-binding tunnel leading to the cofactor and covered by a flexible arginine, which explains the high activity and selectivity of the PjAT with 6-aminohexanoate. The results suggest that the degradation pathway for caprolactam has recruited an aminotransferase that is well adapted to 6-aminohexanoate degradation. DATABASE: The atomic coordinates and structure factors P. jessenii 6-aminohexanoate aminotransferase have been deposited in the PDB as entries 6G4B (E∙succinate complex), 6G4C (E∙phosphate complex), 6G4D (E∙PLP complex), 6G4E (E∙PLP-6-aminohexanoate intermediate), and 6G4F (E∙PMP complex).

Keywords: 6-aminohexanoic acid; aminotransferase; caprolactam; deamination; pyridoxal phosphate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aminocaproic Acid / chemistry
  • Aminocaproic Acid / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Caprolactam / chemistry
  • Caprolactam / metabolism*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Models, Molecular
  • Phylogeny
  • Pseudomonas / enzymology*
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transaminases / chemistry*
  • Transaminases / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate
  • Caprolactam
  • Transaminases
  • Aminocaproic Acid