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  1. Several bacteria possess components of catabolic pathways for the synthetic polyester poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET). These proceed by hydrolyzing the ester linkages of the polymer to its monomers, ethylene glycol and terephthalate (TPA), which are further converted into common metabolites. These pathways are crucial for genetically engineering microbes for PET upcycling, prompting interest in their fundamental biochemical and structural elucidation. Terephthalate dioxygenase (TPADO) and its cognate reductase make up a complex multimetalloenzyme system that dihydroxylates TPA, activating it for enzymatic decarboxylation to yield protocatechuic acid (PCA). Here, we report structural, biochemical, and bioinformatic analyses of TPADO. Together, these data illustrate the remarkable adaptation of TPADO to the TPA dianion as its preferred substrate, with small, protonatable ring 2-carbon substituents being among the few permitted substrate modifications. TPADO is a Rieske [2Fe2S] and mononuclear nonheme iron-dependent oxygenase (Rieske oxygenase) that shares low sequence similarity with most structurally characterized members of its family. Structural data show an α-helix–associated histidine side chain that rotates into an Fe (II)–coordinating position following binding of the substrate into an adjacent pocket. TPA interactions with side chains in this pocket were not conserved in homologs with different substrate preferences. The binding mode of the less symmetric 2-hydroxy-TPA substrate,more »the observation that PCA is its oxygenation product, and the close relationship of the TPADO α-subunit to that of anthranilate dioxygenase allowed us to propose a structure-based model for product formation. Future efforts to identify, evolve, or engineer TPADO variants with desirable properties will be enabled by the results described here.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 29, 2023
  2. Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are a recently discovered class of monocopper enzymes broadly distributed across the tree of life. Recent reports indicate that LPMOs can use H2O2as an oxidant and thus carry out a novel type of peroxygenase reaction involving unprecedented copper chemistry. Here, we present a combined computational and experimental analysis of the H2O2-mediated reaction mechanism. In silico studies, based on a model of the enzyme in complex with a crystalline substrate, suggest that a network of hydrogen bonds, involving both the enzyme and the substrate, brings H2O2into a strained reactive conformation and guides a derived hydroxyl radical toward formation of a copper–oxyl intermediate. The initial cleavage of H2O2and subsequent hydrogen atom abstraction from chitin by the copper–oxyl intermediate are the main energy barriers. Stopped-flow fluorimetry experiments demonstrated that the priming reduction of LPMO–Cu(II) to LPMO–Cu(I) is a fast process compared to the reoxidation reactions. Using conditions resulting in single oxidative events, we found that reoxidation of LPMO–Cu(I) is 2,000-fold faster with H2O2than with O2, the latter being several orders of magnitude slower than rates reported for other monooxygenases. The presence of substrate accelerated reoxidation by H2O2, whereas reoxidation by O2became slower, supporting the peroxygenase paradigm. These insights intomore »the peroxygenase nature of LPMOs will aid in the development and application of enzymatic and synthetic copper catalysts and contribute to a further understanding of the roles of LPMOs in nature, varying from biomass conversion to chitinolytic pathogenesis-defense mechanisms.

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  3. Microbial conversion of aromatic compounds is an emerging and promising strategy for valorization of the plant biopolymer lignin. A critical and often rate-limiting reaction in aromatic catabolism is O -aryl-demethylation of the abundant aromatic methoxy groups in lignin to form diols, which enables subsequent oxidative aromatic ring-opening. Recently, a cytochrome P450 system, GcoAB, was discovered to demethylate guaiacol (2-methoxyphenol), which can be produced from coniferyl alcohol-derived lignin, to form catechol. However, native GcoAB has minimal ability to demethylate syringol (2,6-dimethoxyphenol), the analogous compound that can be produced from sinapyl alcohol-derived lignin. Despite the abundance of sinapyl alcohol-based lignin in plants, no pathway for syringol catabolism has been reported to date. Here we used structure-guided protein engineering to enable microbial syringol utilization with GcoAB. Specifically, a phenylalanine residue (GcoA-F169) interferes with the binding of syringol in the active site, and on mutation to smaller amino acids, efficient syringol O -demethylation is achieved. Crystallography indicates that syringol adopts a productive binding pose in the variant, which molecular dynamics simulations trace to the elimination of steric clash between the highly flexible side chain of GcoA-F169 and the additional methoxy group of syringol. Finally, we demonstrate in vivo syringol turnover in Pseudomonas putida KT2440more »with the GcoA-F169A variant. Taken together, our findings highlight the significant potential and plasticity of cytochrome P450 aromatic O -demethylases in the biological conversion of lignin-derived aromatic compounds.« less
  4. Abstract

    Microbial aromatic catabolism offers a promising approach to convert lignin, a vast source of renewable carbon, into useful products. Aryl-O-demethylation is an essential biochemical reaction to ultimately catabolize coniferyl and sinapyl lignin-derived aromatic compounds, and is often a key bottleneck for both native and engineered bioconversion pathways. Here, we report the comprehensive characterization of a promiscuous P450 aryl-O-demethylase, consisting of a cytochrome P450 protein from the family CYP255A (GcoA) and a three-domain reductase (GcoB) that together represent a new two-component P450 class. Though originally described as converting guaiacol to catechol, we show that this system efficiently demethylates both guaiacol and an unexpectedly wide variety of lignin-relevant monomers. Structural, biochemical, and computational studies of this novel two-component system elucidate the mechanism of its broad substrate specificity, presenting it as a new tool for a critical step in biological lignin conversion.