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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mechanistic studies on 4-dimethylallyltryptophan synthase and the N-prenyltransferase CymD Qian, Qi


Prenylated Indole alkaloids comprise a large group of biologically active molecules that include the ergot alkaloids. Prenylation is often important for the activity of these compounds and is catalyzed by an emerging new class of enzyme, the indole prenyltransferases. These enzymes are metal independent and share a unique αββα fold. 4-Dimethylallyltryptophan synthase (DMATS) is an indole prenyltransferase that transfers the dimethylallyl group onto the C-4 position of L-tryptophan, in the first committed step of ergot alkaloid biosynthesis. It was previously shown to employ a dissociative mechanism, and two important catalytic residues, E89 and K174, have been identified from crystallographic studies. In this work, four mutants were prepared by mutating E89 and K174 to either glutamine or alanine. The results from kinetic studies and positional isotope exchange (PIX) experiments on all four mutants were consistent with the roles proposed for these two residues. Upon examination of the products in the mutant-catalyzed reactions, one unusual product was identified from the mutant K174A. A hexahydropyrroloindole structure was first proposed and later confirmed by obtaining an authentic sample through chemical synthesis. After examining the positioning of the substrates in the active site, a new mechanism involving a Cope rearrangement was proposed for DMATS. Another indole prenyltransferase CymD catalyzes a ‘reverse’ prenylation on the N-1 position of L-tryptophan. In this work, a series of mechanistic studies were carried out to probe its mechanism. Fluorinated tryptophan analogs demonstrated a modest effect on the rate of catalysis, suggesting no positive charge accumulation on the indole ring. A krel value of 1.0 × 10-² was determined with E-F-DMAPP, indicating that significant positive charge accumulates on the allylic moiety during the transition state of catalysis. PIX experiments with L-tryptophan did not show any isotopic scrambling, however, isotopic scrambling was observed with fluorinated tryptophans. This indicates that a discrete allylic carbocation intermediate is generated. Lastly, solvent kinetic studies presented a primary KIE of 2.3, indicating that the deprotonation of the N-H is a rate-determining step. A hybrid mechanism was proposed for CymD, in which dissociation first forms an allylic cation and then deprotonation direct the indole for nucleophilic attack.

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