The genome sequence of Streptomyces coelicolor contains three open reading frames (sco1441, sco2687, and sco6655) that encode proteins with significant (>40%) amino acid identity to GTP cyclohydrolase II (GCH II), which catalyzes the committed step in the biosynthesis of riboflavin. The physiological significance of the redundancy of these proteins in S. coelicolor is not known. However, the gene contexts of the three proteins are different, suggesting that they may serve alternate biological niches. Each of the three proteins was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and characterized to determine if their functions are biologically overlapping. As purified, each protein contains 1 molar equiv of zinc/mol of protein and utilizes guanosine 5′-triphosphate (GTP) as substrate. Two of these proteins (SCO 1441 and SCO 2687) produce the canonical product of GCH II, 2,5-diamino-6-ribosylamino-4(3H)-pyrimidinone 5′-phosphate (APy). Remarkably, however, one of the three proteins (SCO 6655) converts GTP to 2-amino-5-formylamino-6-ribosylamino-4(3H)-pyrimidinone 5′-phosphate (FAPy), as shown by UV-visible spectrophotometry, mass spectrometry, and NMR. This activity has been reported for a GTP cyclohydrolase III protein from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii [Graham, D. E., Xu, H., and White, R. H. (2002) Biochemistry 41, 15074-15084], which has no amino acid sequence homology to SCO 6655. Comparison of the sequences of these proteins and mapping onto the structure of the E. coli GCH II protein [Ren, J., Kotaka, M., Lockyer, M., Lamb, H. K., Hawkins, A. R., and Stammers, D. K. (2005) J. Biol. Chem. 280, 36912-36919] allowed identification of a switch residue, Met120, which appears to be responsible for the altered fate of GTP observed with SCO 6655; a Tyr is found in the analogous position of all proteins that have been shown to catalyze the conversion of GTP to APy. The Met120Tyr variant of SCO 6655 acquires the ability to catalyze the conversion of GTP to APy, suggesting a role for Tyr120 in the late phase of the reaction. Our data are consistent with duplication of GCH II in S. coelicolor promoting evolution of a new function. The physiological role(s) of the gene clusters that house GCH II homologues will be discussed.
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