Structural Characterization of the Flavonoid Enzyme Complex
Dana, Christopher David
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Flavonoid biosynthesis is an important secondary metabolic pathway in higher plants with a range of vital functions in plants and animals. This pathway has been developed as a model system for the study of multi-enzyme complexes. The goal of the work presented here was to structurally characterize a series of loss-of-function chalcone synthase (CHS) alleles and to define the molecular basis of the interaction between CHS and the second enzyme of flavonoid biosynthesis, chalcone isomerase (CHI). CHS proteins encoded by five previously characterized alleles were characterized by homology modeling in an effort to explain the alterations in function, stability, and dimerization exhibited by these variants. Four of the encoded proteins have a single amino acid substitution and the fifth is a truncated protein resulting from a frameshift. Models for each of these proteins were generated in silico and analyzed after molecular dynamics simulations. This analysis suggested reasons for changes in catalytic ability and stability for three of the five CHS variants. To characterize the molecular basis of the CHS-CHI interaction, a model was developed using X-ray crystallography, small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), in silico docking, molecular dynamics simulations, and yeast 2-hybrid analyses. These enzymes appear to be interacting in a manner that could facilitate the flow of intermediates from one active site to another. These experiments also identified a series of amino acids that appear to be involved in the interaction, which are currently undergoing alteration and analysis using a yeast 2-hybrid assay to verify the authenticity of the model. The data presented herein could be used in future engineering experiments to alter pathway flux to control the levels or types of flavonoid endproducts, resulting in more nutritious plants or flowers with novel pigments. These experiments advance the study of the structure of multi-enzyme complexes, an area that currently contains little information. As well, this is the first known use of SANS for the investigation of the architecture of metabolons. The techniques described herein could easily be applied to other systems in an effort to better understand the organization of multi-enzyme complexes and the implications of these assemblies on metabolic regulation.
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