Combined quantum mechanical and molecular mechanical reaction pathway calculation for aromatic hydroxylation by p-hydroxybenzoate-3-hydroxylase

L Ridder, A J Mulholland, I M Rietjens, J Vervoort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The reaction pathway for the aromatic 3-hydroxylation of p-hydroxybenzoate by the reactive C4a-hydroperoxyflavin cofactor intermediate in p-hydroxybenzoate hydroxylase (PHBH) has been investigated by a combined quantum mechanical and molecular mechanical (QM/MM) method. A structural model for the C4a-hydroperoxyflavin intermediate in the PHBH reaction cycle was built on the basis of the crystal structure coordinates of the enzyme-substrate complex. A reaction pathway for the subsequent hydroxylation step was calculated by imposing a reaction coordinate that involves cleavage of the peroxide oxygen-oxygen bond and formation of the carbon-oxygen bond between the C3 atom of the substrate and the distal oxygen of the peroxide moiety of the cofactor. The geometric changes and the Mulliken charge distributions along the calculated reaction pathway are in line with an electrophilic aromatic substitution type of mechanism. The energy barrier of the calculated reaction is considerably lower when the substrate hydroxyl moiety is deprotonated, in comparison with the barrier found with a protonated hydroxyl moiety. This effect of the protonation state of the substrate on the calculated energy barrier supports experimental observations that deprotonation is required for hydroxylation of the substrate. A notable event in the calculated reaction pathway is a lengthening of the peroxide oxygen-oxygen bond at an intermediate stage. Further analysis of the reaction pathway indicates that this oxygen-oxygen bond elongation is accompanied by an increase in electrophilic reactivity on the distal oxygen of the peroxide moiety, which may assist the C-O bond formation in the reaction of the C4a-hydroperoxyflavin intermediate with the substrate. Analysis of the effect of individual active site residues on the reaction reveals a specific transition state stabilization by the backbone carbonyl moiety of Pro293. The crystal water 717 appears to drive the hydroxylation step through a stabilizing hydrogen bond interaction to the proximal oxygen of the C4a-hydroperoxyflavin intermediate, which increases in strength as the hydroperoxyflavin cofactor converts to the anionic (deprotonated) hydroxyflavin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-75, 214
JournalJournal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2000


  • 4-Hydroxybenzoate-3-Monooxygenase
  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Graphics
  • Hydroxylation
  • Models, Molecular
  • Parabens
  • Protein Conformation
  • Quantum Theory


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