The metA (Rv3341) gene from Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv strain encodes a homoserine-acetyltransferase (HAT) enzyme, also called MetA. This enzyme plays a key role in the biosynthetic pathway of methionine and is a potential target for the development of antimicrobial drugs. Purified MetA showed 40 kDa molecular mass on SDS-PAGE. Manual docking was performed with substrates acetyl-CoA, l-homoserine, and p-nitrophenylacetate using crystal structure coordinates of MetA (PDB ID 6PUX) from M. tuberculosis. Multiple sequence alignment indicated that catalytic triad residues Ser157, Asp320, His350 were conserved across species in acetyltransferases, esterases, and hydrolases. As a conserved pentapeptide, GXSMG belongs to α/β hydrolase superfamily and it shares similarity with esterases and hydrolases from different sources. Hydrolase activity of MetA was tested using (PNPA), N-acetylglycine, N-acetylmethionine and Phe-Gly as substrate. LC-MS confirmed that MetA possessed HAT activity, but no homoserine-succinyltransferase (HST) and serine-acetyltransferase (SAT) activities. Replacing acetyl-CoA with PNPA as acetyl group donor showed a drastic reduction in transferase activity, arising due to the interaction of R227 of the enzyme with PNPA. This could prevent the binding of the second substrate in the right orientation and results in the preferential transfer of the acetyl group to water, thus exhibiting hydrolase rather than transferase activity. In this paper, we report that MetA has both transferase and hydrolase activity depending on the correct orientation of the second substrate and the availability of the amino acids involved in enzyme-substrate interaction.
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