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The thiamin- and flavin-dependent peripheral membrane enzyme pyruvate oxidase from E. coli catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of the central metabolite pyruvate to CO(2) and acetate. Concomitant reduction of the enzyme-bound flavin triggers membrane binding of the C terminus and shuttling of 2 electrons to ubiquinone 8, a membrane-bound mobile carrier of the electron transport chain. Binding to the membrane in vivo or limited proteolysis in vitro stimulate the catalytic proficiency by 2 orders of magnitude. The molecular mechanisms by which membrane binding and activation are governed have remained enigmatic. Here, we present the X-ray crystal structures of the full-length enzyme and a proteolytically activated truncation variant lacking the last 23 C-terminal residues inferred as important in membrane binding. In conjunction with spectroscopic results, the structural data pinpoint a conformational rearrangement upon activation that exposes the autoinhibitory C terminus, thereby freeing the active site. In the activated enzyme, Phe-465 swings into the active site and wires both cofactors for efficient electron transfer. The isolated C terminus, which has no intrinsic helix propensity, folds into a helical structure in the presence of micelles.


Piotr Neumann, Annett Weidner, Andreas Pech, Milton T Stubbs, Kai Tittmann. Structural basis for membrane binding and catalytic activation of the peripheral membrane enzyme pyruvate oxidase from Escherichia coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008 Nov 11;105(45):17390-5

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PMID: 18988747

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