The Flexible N-Terminus of BchL Autoinhibits Activity Through Interaction With Its [4Fe-4S] Cluster and Released Upon ATP Binding

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Journal/Book Title

Journal of Biological Chemistry

Publication Date



Elsevier Inc.



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A key step in bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis is the reduction of protochlorophyllide to chlorophyllide, catalyzed by dark-operative protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase. Darkoperative protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase contains two [4Fe-4S]-containing component proteins (BchL and BchNB) that assemble upon ATP binding to BchL to coordinate electron transfer and protochlorophyllide reduction. But the precise nature of the ATP-induced conformational changes is poorly understood. We present a crystal structure of BchL in the nucleotide-free form where a conserved, flexible region in the N-terminus masks the [4Fe-4S] cluster at the docking interface between BchL and BchNB. Amino acid substitutions in this region produce a hyperactive enzyme complex, suggesting a role for the N-terminus in autoinhibition. Hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry shows that ATP binding to BchL produces specific conformational changes leading to release of the flexible N-terminus from the docking interface. The release also promotes changes within the local environment surrounding the [4Fe- 4S] cluster and promotes BchL-complex formation with BchNB. A key patch of amino acids, Asp-Phe-Asp (the 'DFD patch'), situated at the mouth of the BchL ATP-binding pocket promotes intersubunit cross stabilization of the two subunits. A linked BchL dimer with one defective ATPbinding site does not support protochlorophyllide reduction, illustrating nucleotide binding to both subunits as a prerequisite for the intersubunit cross stabilization. The masking of the [4Fe-4S] cluster by the flexible N-terminal region and the associated inhibition of the activity is a novel mechanism of regulation in metalloproteins. Such mechanisms are possibly an adaptation to the anaerobic nature of eubacterial cells with poor tolerance for oxygen.