Deoxyhypusine synthase catalyses the first step in the biosynthesis of hypusine [Nε-(4-amino-2-hydroxybutyl)lysine]. The crystal structure of human deoxyhypusine synthase in complex with NAD revealed four NAD-binding sites per enzyme tetramer, and led to a prediction of the spermidine-binding pocket. We have replaced each of the seven amino acid residues at the predicted spermidine-binding site, and eleven residues that contact NAD, on an individual basis with alanine. Of the amino acid residues at the spermidine site, substitution of Asp-243, Trp-327, His-288, Asp-316 or Glu-323 with alanine caused an almost complete loss of spermidine binding and enzyme activity; only the mutation Tyr-305 → Ala showed partial binding and activity. His-288 → Ala was also deficient in terms of binding NAD. NAD binding was significantly reduced in all of the NAD-site mutant enzymes, except for Glu-137 → Ala, which showed a normal binding of NAD, but was totally lacking in spermidine binding. Of the NAD-site mutant enzymes, Asp-342 → Ala, Asp-313 → Ala and Asp-238 → Ala displayed the lowest binding of NAD. These enzymes and His-288Ala also showed a reduced binding of spermidine, presumably because spermidine binding is dependent on NAD. These findings permit the positive identification of amino acid residues critical for binding of spermidine and NAD, and provide a new insight into the complex molecular interactions involved in the deoxyhypusine synthase reaction.

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