The conserved active-site loop residues of ferrochelatase induce porphyrin conformational changes necessary for catalysis

Zhen Shi, Ricardo Franco, Raid E. Haddad, John Allen Shelnutt, Glória C. Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Binding of porphyrin to murine ferrochelatase, the terminal enzyme of the heme biosynthetic pathway, is investigated by employing a set of variants harboring mutations in a putative porphyrin-binding loop. Using resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopy, the structural properties of the ferrochelatase-bound porphyrins are examined, especially with respect to the porphyrin deformation occurring in the environment of the active site. This deformation is thought to be a key step in the enzymatic insertion of ferrous iron into the porphyrin ring to make heme. Our previous RR spectroscopic studies of binding of porphyrin to murine ferrochelatase led us to propose that the wild-type enzyme induces porphyrin distortion even in the absence of the metal ion substrate. Here, we broaden this view by presenting evidence that the degree of a specific nonplanar porphyrin deformation contributes to the catalytic efficiency of ferrochelatase and its variants. The results also suggest that the conserved Trp256 (murine ferrochelatase numbering) is partially responsible for the observed porphyrin deformation. Binding of porphyrin to the ferrochelatase variants causes a decrease in the intensity of RR out-of-plane vibrational mode gamma(15), a saddling-like mode that is strong in the wild-type enzyme. In particular, the variant with a catalytic efficiency 1 order of magnitude lower than that of the wild-type enzyme is estimated to produce less than 30% of the wild-type saddling deformation. These results suggest that specific conserved loop residues (especially Trp256) are directly involved in the saddling of the porphyrin substrate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2904-2912
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2006


  • Spectroscopy
  • Substrates
  • Catalysis
  • Deformation
  • EnzymesIron alloys
  • Organic compounds


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