Monomeric S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase from plants provides an alternative to putrescine stimulation

Eric M. Bennett, Jennifer L. Ekstrom, Anthony Pegg, Steven E. Ealick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


S-Adenosylmethionine decarboxylase has been implicated in cell growth and differentiation and is synthesized as a proenzyme, which undergoes autocatalytic cleavage to generate an active site pyruvoyl group. In mammals, S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase is active as a dimer in which each protomer contains one α subunit and one β subunit. In many higher organisms, autocatalysis and decarboxylation are stimulated by putrescine, which binds in a buried site containing numerous negatively charged residues. In contrast, plant S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylases are fully active in the absence of putrescine, with rapid autocatalysis that is not stimulated by putrescine. We have determined the structure of the S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase from potato, Solanum tuberosum, to 2.3 Å resolution. Unlike the previously determined human enzyme structure, the potato enzyme is a monomer in the crystal structure. Ultracentrifugation studies show that the potato enzyme is also a monomer under physiological conditions, with a weak self-association constant of 6.5 × 104 M-1 for the monomer-dimer association. Although the potato enzyme contains most of the buried charged residues that make up the putrescine binding site in the human enzyme, there is no evidence for a putrescine binding site in the potato enzyme. Instead, several amino acid substitutions, including Leu13/Arg18, Phe111/Arg 114, Asp174/Val181, and Phe285/His294 (human/potato), provide side chains that mimic the role of putrescine in the human enzyme. In the potato enzyme, the positively charged residues form an extensive network of hydrogen bonds bridging a cluster of highly conserved negatively charged residues and the active site, including interactions with the catalytic residues Glu16 and His249. The results explain the constitutively high activity of plant S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylases in the absence of putrescine and are consistent with previously proposed models for how putrescine together with the buried, negatively charged site regulates enzyme activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14509-14517
Number of pages9
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 10 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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