Research & Teaching Faculty

Catalytic Mechanism of Human alpha-Galactosidase

TitleCatalytic Mechanism of Human alpha-Galactosidase
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsGuce, AI, Clark, NE, Salgado, EN, Ivanen, DR, Kulminskaya, AA, Brumer, H, Garman, SC
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry

The enzyme alpha-galactosidase (alpha-GAL, also known as alpha-GAL A; E.C. is responsible for the breakdown of alpha-galactosides in the lysosome. Defects in human alpha-GAL lead to the development of Fabry disease, a lysosomal storage disorder characterized by the buildup of alpha-galactosylated substrates in the tissues. alpha-GAL is an active target of clinical research: there are currently two treatment options for Fabry disease, recombinant enzyme replacement therapy (approved in the United States in 2003) and pharmacological chaperone therapy (currently in clinical trials). Previously, we have reported the structure of human alpha-GAL, which revealed the overall structure of the enzyme and established the locations of hundreds of mutations that lead to the development of Fabry disease. Here, we describe the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme derived from x-ray crystal structures of each of the four stages of the double displacement reaction mechanism. Use of a difluoro-alpha-galactopyranoside allowed trapping of a covalent intermediate. The ensemble of structures reveals distortion of the ligand into a (1)S(3) skew (or twist) boat conformation in the middle of the reaction cycle. The high resolution structures of each step in the catalytic cycle will allow for improved drug design efforts on alpha-GAL and other glycoside hydrolase family 27 enzymes by developing ligands that specifically target different states of the catalytic cycle. Additionally, the structures revealed a second ligand-binding site suitable for targeting by novel pharmacological chaperones.