Crystal structure of the Homo sapiens kynureninase-3-hydroxyhippuric acid inhibitor complex: insights into the molecular basis of kynureninase substrate specificity.
Homo sapiens kynureninase is a pyridoxal-5'-phosphate dependent enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolytic cleavage of 3-hydroxykynurenine to yield 3-hydroxyanthranilate and L-alanine as part of the tryptophan catabolic pathway leading to the de novo biosynthesis of NAD(+). This pathway results in quinolinate, an excitotoxin that is an NMDA receptor agonist. High levels of quinolinate have been correlated with the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders such as AIDS-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. We have synthesized a novel kynureninase inhibitor, 3-hydroxyhippurate, cocrystallized it with human kynureninase, and solved the atomic structure. On the basis of an analysis of the complex, we designed a series of His-102, Ser-332, and Asn-333 mutants. The H102W/N333T and H102W/S332G/N333T mutants showed complete reversal of substrate specificity between 3-hydroxykynurenine and L-kynurenine, thus defining the primary residues contributing to substrate specificity in kynureninases.