Substrate-Dependent Cleavage Site Selection by Unconventional Radical S-Adenosylmethionine Enzymes in Diphthamide Biosynthesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM) has a sulfonium ion with three distinct C-S bonds. Conventional radical SAM enzymes use a [4Fe-4S] cluster to cleave homolytically the C5',adenosine-S bond of SAM to generate a 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical, which catalyzes various downstream chemical reactions. Radical SAM enzymes involved in diphthamide biosynthesis, such as Pyrococcus horikoshii Dph2 (PhDph2) and yeast Dph1-Dph2 instead cleave the Cγ,Met-S bond of methionine to generate a 3-amino-3-carboxylpropyl radical. We here show radical SAM enzymes can be tuned to cleave the third C-S bond to the sulfonium sulfur by changing the structure of SAM. With a decarboxyl SAM analogue (dc-SAM), PhDph2 cleaves the Cmethyl-S bond, forming 5'-deoxy-5'-(3-aminopropylthio) adenosine (dAPTA, 1). The methyl cleavage activity, like the cleavage of the other two C-S bonds, is dependent on the presence of a [4Fe-4S]+ cluster. Electron-nuclear double resonance and mass spectroscopy data suggests that mechanistically one of the S atoms in the [4Fe-4S] cluster captures the methyl group from dc-SAM, forming a distinct EPR-active intermediate, which can transfer the methyl group to nucleophiles such as dithiothreitol. This reveals the [4Fe-4S] cluster in a radical SAM enzyme can be tuned to cleave any one of the three bonds to the sulfonium sulfur of SAM or analogues, and is the first demonstration a radical SAM enzyme could switch from an Fe-based one electron transfer reaction to a S-based two electron transfer reaction in a substrate-dependent manner. This study provides an illustration of the versatile reactivity of Fe-S clusters.

published proceedings

  • J Am Chem Soc

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Dong, M., Horitani, M., Dzikovski, B., Freed, J. H., Ealick, S. E., Hoffman, B. M., & Lin, H

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Dong, Min||Horitani, Masaki||Dzikovski, Boris||Freed, Jack H||Ealick, Steven E||Hoffman, Brian M||Lin, Hening

publication date

  • April 2017