The active sites and substrate bindings of Rhizobium trifolii molonyl-CoA synthetase (MCS) catalyzing the malonyl-CoA formation from malonate and CoA have been determined based on NMR spectroscopy, site-directed mutagenesis, and comparative modeling methods. The MCS-bound conformation of malonyl-CoA was determined from two-dimensional-transferred nuclear Overhauser effect spectroscopy data. MCS protein folds into two structural domains and consists of 16 α-helices, 24 β-strands, and several long loops. The core active site was determined as a wide cleft close to the end of the small C-terminal domain. The catalytic substrate malonate is placed between ATP and His206 in the MCS enzyme, supporting His206 in its catalytic role as it generates reaction intermediate, malonyl-AMP. These findings are strongly supported by previous biochemical data, as well as by the site-directed mutagenesis data reported here. This structure reveals the biochemical role as well as the substrate specificity that conservative residues of adenylate-forming enzymes have.
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