Direct evidence for a phenylalanine site in the regulatory domain of phenylalanine hydroxylase

Jun Li, Udayar Ilangovan, S. Colette Daubner, Andrew P. Hinck, Paul F. Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The hydroxylation of phenylalanine to tyrosine by the liver enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase is regulated by the level of phenylalanine. Whether there is a distinct allosteric binding site for phenylalanine outside of the active site has been unclear. The enzyme contains an N-terminal regulatory domain that extends through Thr117. The regulatory domain of rat phenylalanine hydroxylase was expressed in Escherichia coli. The purified protein behaves as a dimer on a gel filtration column. In the presence of phenylalanine, the protein elutes earlier from the column, consistent with a conformational change in the presence of the amino acid. No change in elution is seen in the presence of the non-activating amino acid proline. 1H-15N HSQC NMR spectra were obtained of the 15N-labeled protein alone and in the presence of phenylalanine or proline. A subset of the peaks in the spectrum exhibits chemical shift perturbation in the presence of phenylalanine, consistent with binding of phenylalanine at a specific site. No change in the NMR spectrum is seen in the presence of proline. These results establish that the regulatory domain of phenylalanine hydroxylase can bind phenylalanine, consistent with the presence of an allosteric site for the amino acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-255
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2011


  • Enzyme regulation
  • NMR
  • Phenylalanine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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