A conserved glutamate controls the commitment to acyl-adenylate formation in asparagine synthetase. Academic Article uri icon


  • Inhibitor docking studies have implicated a conserved glutamate residue (Glu-348) as a general base in the synthetase active site of the enzyme asparagine synthetase B from Escherichia coli (AS-B). We now report steady-state kinetic, isotope transfer, and positional isotope exchange experiments for a series of site-directed AS-B mutants in which Glu-348 is substituted by conservative amino acid replacements. We find that formation of the -aspartyl-AMP intermediate, and therefore the eventual production of asparagine, is dependent on the presence of a carboxylate side chain at this position in the synthetase active site. In addition, Glu-348 may also play a role in mediating the conformational changes needed to (i) coordinate, albeit weakly, the glutaminase and synthetase activities of the enzyme and (ii) establish the structural integrity of the intramolecular tunnel along which ammonia is translocated. The importance of Glu-348 in mediating acyl-adenylate formation contrasts with the functional role of the cognate residues in -lactam synthetase (BLS) and carbapenem synthetase (CPS) (Tyr-348 and Tyr-345, respectively), which both likely evolved from asparagine synthetase. Given the similarity of the chemistry catalyzed by AS-B, BLS, and CPS, our work highlights the difficulty of predicting the functional outcome of single site mutations on enzymes that catalyze almost identical chemical transformations.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Meyer, M. E., Gutierrez, J. A., Raushel, F. M., & Richards, N.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Meyer, Megan E||Gutierrez, Jemy A||Raushel, Frank M||Richards, Nigel GJ

publication date

  • November 2010