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Keywords:

  • chaperone;
  • cobalamin;
  • diflavin reductase;
  • methionine synthase;
  • methionine synthase reductase

Human methionine synthase reductase (MSR), a diflavin enzyme, restores the activity of human methionine synthase through reductive methylation of methionine synthase (MS)-bound cob(II)alamin. Recently, it was also reported that MSR enhances uptake of cobalamin by apo-MS, a role associated with the MSR-catalysed reduction of exogenous aquacob(III)alamin to cob(II)alamin [Yamada K, Gravel RA, TorayaT & Matthews RG (2006) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA103, 9476–9481]. Here, we report the expression and purification of human methionine synthase from Pichia pastoris. This has enabled us to assess the ability of human MSR and two other structurally related diflavin reductase enzymes (cytochrome P450 reductase and the reductase domain of neuronal nitric oxide synthase) to: (a) stimulate formation of holo-MS from aquacob(III)alamin and the apo-form of MS; and (b) reactivate the inert cob(II)alamin form of MS that accumulates during enzyme catalysis. Of the three diflavin reductases studied, cytochrome P450 reductase had the highest turnover rate (55.5 s−1) for aquacob(III)alamin reduction, and the reductase domain of neuronal nitric oxide synthase elicited the highest specificity (kcat/Km of 1.5 × 105 m−1·s−1) and MSR had the lowest Km (6.6 μm) for the cofactor. Despite the ability of all three enzymes to reduce aquacob(III)alamin, only MSR (the full-length form or the isolated FMN domain) enhanced the uptake of cobalamin by apo-MS. MSR was also the only diflavin reductase to reactivate the inert cob(II)alamin form of purified human MS (Kact of 107 nm) isolated from Pichia pastoris. Our work shows that reactivation of cob(II)alamin MS and incorporation of cobalamin into apo-MS is enhanced through specific protein–protein interactions between the MSR FMN domain and MS.