Identification of iron ligands in tyrosine hydroxylase by mutagenesis of conserved histidinyl residues

S. Colette Daubner, Joel I. Ehrlich, Andrew J. Ramsey, Paul F. Fitzpatrick

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47 Scopus citations


Tyrosine hydroxylase catalyzes the hydroxylation of tyrosine and other aromatic amino acids using a tetrahydropterin as the reducing substrate. The enzyme is a homotetramer; each monomer contains a single nonheme iron atom. Five histidine residues are conserved in all tyrosine hydroxylases that have been sequenced to date and in the related eukaryotic enzymes phenylalanine and tryptophan hydroxylase. Because histidine has been suggested as a ligand to the iron in these enzymes, mutant tyrosine hydroxylase proteins in which each of the conserved histidines had been mutated to glutamine or alanine were expressed in Escherichia coli. The H192Q, H247Q, and H317A mutant proteins contained iron in comparable amounts to the wild‐type enzyme, about 0.6 atoms/sub‐unit. In contrast, the H331 and H336 mutant proteins contained no iron. The first three mutant enzymes were active, with Vmax values 39, 68, and 7% that of the wild‐type enzyme, and slightly altered V/Km values for both tyrosine and 6‐methyltetrahydropterin. In contrast, the H331 and H336 mutant enzymes had no detectable activity. The EPR spectra of the H192Q and H247Q enzymes are indistinguishable from that of wild‐type tyrosine hydroxylase, whereas that of the H317A enzyme indicated that the ligand field of the iron had been slightly perturbed. These results are consistent with H331 and H336 being ligands to the active site iron atom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2082-2086
Number of pages5
JournalProtein Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • active site
  • iron binding
  • mutagenesis
  • tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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