Cysteine-scanning mutagenesis of muscle carnitine palmitoyltransferase I reveals a single cysteine residue (Cys-305) is important for catalysis

Hong Yan Liu, Guolu Zheng, Michelle Treber, Jia Dai, Gebre Woldegiorgis

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Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) I catalyzes the conversion of long-chain fatty acyl-CoAs to acyl carnitines in the presence of L-carnitine, a rate-limiting step in the transport of long-chain fatty acids from the cytoplasm to the mitochondrial matrix. To determine the role of the 15 cysteine residues in the heart/skeletal muscle isoform of CPTI (M-CPTI) on catalytic activity and malonyl-CoA sensitivity, we constructed a 6-residue N-terminal, a 9-residue C-terminal, and a 15-residue cysteineless M-CPTI by cysteine-scanning mutagenesis. Both the 9-residue C-terminal mutant enzyme and the complete 15-residue cysteineless mutant enzyme are inactive but that the 6-residue N-terminal cysteineless mutant enzyme had activity and malonyl-CoA sensitivity similar to those of wild-type M-CPTI. Mutation of each of the 9 C-terminal cysteines to alanine or serine identified a single residue, Cys-305, to be important for catalysis. Substitution of Cys-305 with Ala in the wild-type enzyme inactivated M-CPTI, and a single change of Ala-305 to Cys in the 9-residue C-terminal cysteineless mutant resulted in an 8-residue C-terminal cysteineless mutant enzyme that had activity and malonyl-CoA sensitivity similar to those of the wild type, suggesting that Cys-305 is the residue involved in catalysis. Sequence alignments of CPTI with the acyltransferase family of enzymes in the GenBank™ led to the identification of a putative catalytic triad in CPTI consisting of residues Cys-305, Asp-454, and His-473. Based on the mutagenesis and substrate labeling studies, we propose a mechanism for the acyltransferase activity of CPTI that uses a catalytic triad composed of Cys-305, His-473, and Asp-454 with Cys-305 serving as a probable nucleophile, thus acting as a site for covalent attachment of the acyl molecule and formation of a stable acyl-enzyme intermediate. This would in turn allow carnitine to act as a second nucleophile and complete the acyl transfer reaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4524-4531
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 11 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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