Formamidopyrimidine glycosylase (Fpg) is an important bacterial base excision repair enzyme, which initiates removal of damaged purines such as the highly mutagenic 8-oxoguanine. Similar to other glycosylase/AP lyases, catalysis by Fpg is known to proceed by a nucleophilic attack by an amino group (the secondary amine of its N-terminal proline) on C1' of the deoxyribose sugar at a damaged base, which results in the departure of the base from the DNA and removal of the sugar ring by β/δ-elimination. However, in contrast to other enzymes in this class, in which acidic amino acids have been shown to be essential for glycosyl and phosphodiester bond scission, the catalytically essential acidic residues have not been documented for Fpg. Multiple sequence alignments of conserved acidic residues in all known bacterial Fpg-like proteins revealed six conserved glutamic and aspartic acid residues. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to change glutamic and aspartic acid residues to glutamines and asparagines, respectively. While the Asp to Asn mutants had no effect on the incision activity on 8-oxoguanine-containing DNA, several of the substitutions at glutamates reduced Fpg activity on the 8-oxoguanosine DNA, with the E3Q and E174Q mutants being essentially devoid of activity. The AP lyase activity of all of the glutamic acid mutants was slightly reduced as compared to the wild-type enzyme. Sodium borohydride trapping of wild-type Fpg and its E3Q and E174Q mutants on 8-oxoguanosine or AP site containing DNA correlated with the relative activity of the mutants on either of these substrates.
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