Pterin-dependent phenylalanine hydroxylase from Chromobacterium violaceum contains a stoichiometric amount of copper (Cu2+, 1 mol/mol of enzyme). Electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy of the enzyme indicates that it is a type II copper-containing protein. The oxidized enzyme must be reduced by a single electron to be catalytically active. Dithiothreitol was found to be an effective reducing agent for the enzyme. Electron paramagnetic resonance data and kinetic results indicate the formation of an enzyme-thiol complex during the aerobic reduction of the enzyme by dithiothreitol. 6,7-Dimethyltetrahydropterin also reductively activates the enzyme, but only in the presence of the substrate, and is kinetically less effective than dithiothreitol. The metal center is not reoxidized as a result of normal turnover. However, the data indicate an alternative pathway exists that results in slow reoxidation of the enzyme. The 4a-hydrate of 6-methyltetrahydropterin (4a-carbinolamine) is observed during turnover of the enzyme. This intermediate is also observed during the reaction catalyzed by the iron-containing mammalian enzyme, suggesting that the mechanism of oxygen activation is similar for both enzymes.
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