Chalcone isomerases (CHIs) have well-established roles in the biosynthesis of plant flavonoid metabolites. Saccharomyces cerevisiae possesses two predicted CHI-like proteins, Aim18p (encoded by YHR198C) and Aim46p (YHR199C), but it lacks other enzymes of the flavonoid pathway, suggesting that Aim18p and Aim46p employ the CHI fold for distinct purposes. Here, we demonstrate using proteinase K protection assays, sodium carbonate extractions, and crystallography that Aim18p and Aim46p reside on the mitochondrial inner membrane and adopt CHI folds, but they lack select active site residues and possess an extra fungal-specific loop. Consistent with these differences, Aim18p and Aim46p lack CHI activity and also the fatty acid-binding capabilities of other CHI-like proteins, but instead bind heme. We further show that diverse fungal homologs also bind heme and that Aim18p and Aim46p possess structural homology to a bacterial hemoprotein. Collectively, our work reveals a distinct function and cellular localization for two CHI-like proteins, introduces a new variation of a hemoprotein fold, and suggests that ancestral CHI-like proteins were hemoproteins.
Keywords: chalcone isomerase; hemoprotein; mitochondria; uncharacterized protein; yeast.
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