Nitrile hydratase (NHase) catalyzes the hydration of nitriles to their corresponding commercially valuable amides at ambient temperatures and physiological pH. Several reaction mechanisms have been proposed for NHase enzymes; however, the source of the nucleophile remains a mystery. Boronic acids have been shown to be potent inhibitors of numerous hydrolytic enzymes due to the open shell of boron, which allows it to expand from a trigonal planar (sp2) form to a tetrahedral form (sp3). Therefore, we examined the inhibition of the Co-type NHase from Pseudonocardia thermophila JCM 3095 (PtNHase) by boronic acids via kinetics and X-ray crystallography. Both 1-butaneboronic acid (BuBA) and phenylboronic acid (PBA) function as potent competitive inhibitors of PtNHase. X-ray crystal structures for BuBA and PBA complexed to PtNHase were solved and refined at 1.5, 1.6, and 1.2 Å resolution. The resulting PtNHase–boronic acid complexes represent a “snapshot” of reaction intermediates and implicate the cysteine-sulfenic acid ligand as the catalytic nucleophile, a heretofore unknown role for the αCys113–OH sulfenic acid ligand. Based on these data, a new mechanism of action for the hydration of nitriles by NHase is presented.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/richard_holz/93/