Browsing by Author "Oksanen, Esko"

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  • Oksanen, Esko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Inorganic pyrophosphatases (PPases, EC 3.6.1.1) hydrolyse pyrophosphate in a reaction that provides the thermodynamic 'push' for many reactions in the cell, including DNA and protein synthesis. Soluble PPases can be classified into two families that differ completely in both sequence and structure. While Family I PPases are found in all kingdoms, family II PPases occur only in certain prokaryotes. The enzyme from baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is very well characterised both kinetically and structurally, but the exact mechanism has remained elusive. The enzyme uses divalent cations as cofactors; in vivo the metal is magnesium. Two metals are permanently bound to the enzyme, while two come with the substrate. The reaction cycle involves the activation of the nucleophilic oxygen and allows different pathways for product release. In this thesis I have solved the crystal structures of wild type yeast PPase and seven active site variants in the presence of the native cofactor magnesium. These structures explain the effects of the mutations and have allowed me to describe each intermediate along the catalytic pathway with a structure. Although establishing the ʻchoreographyʼ of the heavy atoms is an important step in understanding the mechanism, hydrogen atoms are crucial for the mechanism. The most unambiguous method to determine the positions of these hydrogen atoms is neutron crystallography. In order to determine the neutron structure of yeast PPase I perdeuterated the enzyme and grew large crystals of it. Since the crystals were not stable at ambient temperature, a cooling device was developed to allow neutron data collection. In order to investigate the structural changes during the reaction in real time by time-resolved crystallography a photolysable substrate precursor is needed. I synthesised a candidate molecule and characterised its photolysis kinetics, but unfortunately it is hydrolysed by both yeast and Thermotoga maritima PPases. The mechanism of Family II PPases is subtly different from Family I. The native metal cofactor is manganese instead of magnesium, but the metal activation is more complex because the metal ions that arrive with the substrate are magnesium different from those permanently bound to the enzyme. I determined the crystal structures of wild type Bacillus subtilis PPase with the inhibitor imidodiphosphate and an inactive H98Q variant with the substrate pyrophosphate. These structures revealed a new trimetal site that activates the nucleophile. I also determined that the metal ion sites were partially occupied by manganese and iron using anomalous X- ray scattering.