Generation of a stable, aminotyrosyl radical-induced α2β2 complex of Escherichia coli class Ia ribonucleotide reductase

Ellen C. Minnihan, Nozomi Ando, Edward J. Brignole, Lisa Olshansky, Johnathan Chittuluru, Francisco J. Asturias, Catherine L. Drennan, Daniel G. Nocera, Jo Anne Stubbe

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39 Scopus citations


Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) catalyzes the conversion of nucleoside diphosphates to deoxynucleoside diphosphates (dNDPs). The Escherichia coli class Ia RNR uses a mechanism of radical propagation by which a cysteine in the active site of the RNR large (α2) subunit is transiently oxidized by a stable tyrosyl radical (Y•) in the RNR small (β2) subunit over a 35-Å pathway of redox-active amino acids: Y122• ↔ [W48?] ↔ Y356 in β2 to Y731 ↔ Y730 ↔ C439 in α2. When 3-aminotyrosine (NH2Y) is incorporated in place of Y730, a long-lived NH2Y730• is generated in α2 in the presence of wildtype (wt)-β2, substrate, and effector. This radical intermediate is chemically and kinetically competent to generate dNDPs. Herein, evidence is presented that NH2Y730• induces formation of a kinetically stable α2β2 complex. Under conditions that generate NH2Y730•, binding between Y730NH2Y-α2 and wt-β2 is 25-fold tighter (Kd = 7 nM) than for wt-α2|wt-β2 and is cooperative. Stopped-flow fluorescence experiments establish that the dissociation rate constant for the Y730NH2Y-α2|wt- β2 interaction is ∼104-fold slower than for the wt subunits (∼60 s-1). EM and small-angle X-ray scattering studies indicate that the stabilized species is a compact globular α2β2, consistent with the structure predicted by Uhlin and Eklund's docking model [Uhlin U, Eklund H (1994) Nature 370(6490):533-539]. These results present a structural and biochemical characterization of the active RNR complex "trapped" during turnover, and suggest that stabilization of the α2β2 state may be a regulatory mechanism for protecting the catalytic radical and ensuring the fidelity of its reactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3835-3840
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 5 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Conformational equilibria
  • Radical transfer
  • Unnatural amino acid


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