Evolutionary convergence in the biosyntheses of the imidazole moieties of histidine and purines

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Date: Apr. 26, 2018
From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 13, Issue 4)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 9,449 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

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Abstract :

Background The imidazole group is an ubiquitous chemical motif present in several key types of biomolecules. It is a structural moiety of purines, and plays a central role in biological catalysis as part of the side-chain of histidine, the amino acid most frequently found in the catalytic site of enzymes. Histidine biosynthesis starts with both ATP and the pentose phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate (PRPP), which is also the precursor for the de novo synthesis of purines. These two anabolic pathways are also connected by the imidazole intermediate 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribotide (AICAR), which is synthesized in both routes but used only in purine biosynthesis. Rather surprisingly, the imidazole moieties of histidine and purines are synthesized by different, non-homologous enzymes. As discussed here, this phenomenon can be understood as a case of functional molecular convergence. Results In this work, we analyze these polyphyletic processes and argue that the independent origin of the corresponding enzymes is best explained by the differences in the function of each of the molecules to which the imidazole moiety is attached. Since the imidazole present in histidine is a catalytic moiety, its chemical arrangement allows it to act as an acid or a base. On the contrary, the de novo biosynthesis of purines starts with an activated ribose and all the successive intermediates are ribotides, with the key [beta]-glycosidic bondage joining the ribose and the imidazole moiety. This prevents purine ribonucleotides to exhibit any imidazole-dependent catalytic activity, and may have been the critical trait for the evolution of two separate imidazole-synthesizing-enzymes. We also suggest that, in evolutionary terms, the biosynthesis of purines predated that of histidine. Conclusions As reviewed here, other biosynthetic routes for imidazole molecules are also found in extant metabolism, including the autocatalytic cyclization that occurs during the formation of creatinine from creatine phosphate, as well as the internal cyclization of the Ala-Ser-Gly motif of some members of the ammonia-lyase and aminomutase families, that lead to the MIO cofactor. The diversity of imidazole-synthesizing pathways highlights the biological significance of this key chemical group, whose biosyntheses evolved independently several times.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A536332586