gem-Dialkyl Succinic Acids: A Novel Class of Inhibitors for Carboxypeptidases
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gem-Dimethylsuccinic acid and its higher homolog, 2-methyl-2-ethylsuccinic acid (MESA) are highly potent inhibitors of both carboxypeptidase A (CPA) and B. The inhibition constant of MESA for CPA (0.11 microM for the racemic mixture) is remarkable considering the relatively simple structure of the compound. The molecular feature which is crucial for high affinity binding to both carboxypeptidases appears to be the nonpolar gem-dialkyl locus. The structure of the complex between MESA and CPA has been determined by X-ray crystallography to 2.0 A resolution and shows the R enantiomer of the inhibitor to be bound in a generally substrate-like manner. The carboxymethyl group is coordinated to the Zn ion in the active site, and the gem-dialkyl locus corresponds in position to the alpha-carbon of the C-terminal amino acid in a peptide substrate. The methyl group of the inhibitor occupies a cavity in the enzyme which is apparently not filled upon substrate-binding. We postulate that this cavity (the alpha-methyl hole) is designed to allow the proximal Glu-270 residue to undergo a critical movement during catalysis. The hydrophobic nature of the above cavity may play a role in modulating the reactivity of this residue. These results suggest that similar cenophilic(empty-loving) inhibitors may be found for other enzymes.
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