L-Methionine γ-lyase (EC 220.127.116.11) catalyzes α,γ-elimination of O-substituted L-homoserines (i.e., ROCH2CH2CH(NH2)COOH; R = acetyl, succinyl, or ethyl) to produce α-ketobutyrate, ammonia, and the corresponding carboxylate or alcohol, and also their γ-replacement reactions with various thiols to produce the corresponding S-substituted L-homocysteines. The reactivities of O-substituted L-homoserines in α,γ-elimination relative to that of L-methionine were as follows: O-acetyl, 140%; O-succinyl, 17%; and O-ethyl-L-homoserine, 99%. However, the enzyme does not catalyze the synthesis of O-substituted L-homoserines from alcohol or carboxylic acids in a γ-replacement reaction. We have analyzed the α,γ-elimination of O-acetyl-L-homoserine in deuterium oxide by 1H-NMR. The [β-2H, γ-2H]-species of a-ketobutyrate was exclusively formed from O-acetyl-L-homoserine. The enzyme catalyzes deamination of L-vinylglycine to give the identically labeled α-ketobutyrate species. Incubation of the enzyme with O-acetyl-L-homoserine resulted in the appearance of a new absorption band at 480 nm, which was observed also with L-vinylglycine. These results strongly suggest that the α,γ-elimination and γ-replacement reactions of O-acetyl-L-homoserine proceed through the stabilized α-carbanion of a Schiff base between pyridoxal 5’-phosphate and vinylglycine, which has been suggested as the key intermediate of L-methionine γ-lyase-caralyzed reactions of S-substituted L-homocysteines [N. Esaki, T. Suzuki, H. Tanaka, K. Soda and R. R. Rando, FEBS Lett., 84, 309 (1977).
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