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Unusual Evolution of Cephalopod Tryptophan Indole-Lyases

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Abstract

Tryptophan indole-lyase (TIL), a pyridoxal-5-phosphate-dependent enzyme, catalyzes the hydrolysis of l-tryptophan (l-Trp) to indole and ammonium pyruvate. TIL is widely distributed among bacteria and bacterial TILs consist of a D2-symmetric homotetramer. On the other hand, TIL genes are also present in several metazoans. Cephalopods have two TILs, TILα and TILβ, which are believed to be derived from a gene duplication that occurred before octopus and squid diverged. However, both TILα and TILβ individually contain disruptive amino acid substitutions for TIL activity, and neither was active when expressed alone. When TILα and TILβ were coexpressed, however, they formed a heterotetramer that exhibited low TIL activity. The loss of TIL activity of the heterotetramer following site-directed mutagenesis strongly suggests that the active heterotetramer contains the TILα/TILβ heterodimer. Metazoan TILs generally have lower kcat values for l-Trp than those of bacterial TILs, but such low TIL activity may be rather suitable for metazoan physiology, where l-Trp is in high demand. Therefore, reduced activity may have been a less likely target for purifying selection in the evolution of cephalopod TILs. Meanwhile, the unusual evolution of cephalopod TILs may indicate the difficulty of post-gene duplication evolution of enzymes with catalytic sites contributed by multiple subunits, such as TIL.

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Correspondence to Hajime Julie Yuasa.

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Handling editor: John Bracht.

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Yuasa, H.J. Unusual Evolution of Cephalopod Tryptophan Indole-Lyases. J Mol Evol 91, 912–921 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-023-10144-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00239-023-10144-x

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