Crystal structure of 3,4-dihydroxy-2-butanone 4-phosphate synthase of riboflavin biosynthesis

D. I. Liao*, J. C. Calabrese, Z. Wawrzak, P. V. Viitanen, D. B. Jordan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Scopus citations


    Background: 3,4-Dihydroxy-2-butanone-4-phosphate synthase catalyzes a commitment step in the biosynthesis of riboflavin. On the enzyme, ribulose 5-phosphate is converted to 3,4-dihydroxy-2-butanone 4-phosphate and formate in steps involving enolization, ketonization, dehydration, skeleton rearrangement, and formate elimination. The enzyme is absent in humans and an attractive target for the discovery of antimicrobials for pathogens incapable of acquiring sufficient riboflavin from their hosts. The homodimer of 23 kDa subunits requires Mg2+ for activity. Results: The first three-dimensional structure of the enzyme was determined at 1.4 Å resolution using the multiwavelength anomalous diffraction (MAD) method on Escherichia coli protein crystals containing gold. The protein consists of an α + β fold having a complex linkage of β strands. Intersubunit contacts are mediated by numerous hydrophobic interactions and three hydrogen bond networks. Conclusions: A proposed active site was identified on the basis of amino acid residues that are conserved among the enzyme from 19 species. There are two well-separated active sites per dimer, each of which com prise residues from both subunits. In addition to three arginines and two threonines, which may be used for recognizing the phosphate group of the substrate, the active site consists of three glutamates, two aspartates, two histidines, and a cysteine which may provide the means for general acid and base catalysis and for coordinating the Mg2+ cofactor within the active site.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)11-18
    Number of pages8
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2001


    • Antimicrobial target
    • Dihydroxybutanone phosphate synthase
    • Riboflavin bio-synthesis
    • Skeletal rearrangement
    • Structure-based design

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Structural Biology


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