Molecular recognition of fluorine impacts substrate selectivity in the fluoroacetyl-CoA thioesterase FlK

Amy M. Weeks, Neil S. Keddie, Rudy D.P. Wadoux, David OHagan, Michelle C.Y. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The fluoroacetate-producing bacterium Streptomyces cattleya has evolved a fluoroacetyl-CoA thioesterase (FlK) that exhibits a remarkably high level of discrimination for its cognate substrate compared to the cellularly abundant analogue acetyl-CoA, which differs only by the absence of the fluorine substitution. A major determinant of FlK specificity derives from its ability to take advantage of the unique properties of fluorine to enhance the reaction rate, allowing fluorine discrimination under physiological conditions where both substrates are likely to be present at saturating concentrations. Using a combination of pH-rate profiles, pre-steady-state kinetic experiments, and Taft analysis of wild-type and mutant FlKs with a set of substrate analogues, we explore the role of fluorine in controlling the enzyme acylation and deacylation steps. Further analysis of chiral (R)- and (S)-[2H 1]fluoroacetyl-CoA substrates demonstrates that a kinetic isotope effect (1.7 ± 0.2) is observed for only the (R)-2H1 isomer, indicating that deacylation requires recognition of the prochiral fluoromethyl group to position the α-carbon for proton abstraction. Taken together, the selectivity for the fluoroacetyl-CoA substrate appears to rely not only on the enhanced polarization provided by the electronegative fluorine substitution but also on molecular recognition of fluorine in both formation and breakdown of the acyl-enzyme intermediate to control active site reactivity. These studies provide insights into the basis of fluorine selectivity in a naturally occurring enzyme-substrate pair, with implications for drug design and the development of fluorine-selective biocatalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2053-2063
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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