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Virginia Tech

1. Dharmarajan, Lakshmi. Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases.

Degree: PhD, Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, 2010, Virginia Tech

Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (Pepc) are two important CO₂-fixation enzymes which share a similar reaction mechanism. Both operate through a lid-gated active site and have a hypothesized enol-pyruvate intermediate in their catalytic pathway. While PEPCK is an important metabolic enzyme in animals and plays a broad role in cataplerosis, gluconeogenesis and glyceroneogenesis, Pepc reaction in plants catalyzes the first committed step in CO₂ fixation in CAM and C₄ plants via Rubisco. We are studying the structure-function aspects of both enzymes, with a goal of discovering new elements in these enzymes which can modulate catalysis. We have undertaken an interdisciplinary approach for this work and have shown that a combination of experimental and computational techniques can be complementary and can provide novel information. We have determined that in human PEPCK, Tyr235 forms an anion-quadrupole interaction with the carboxylate of PEP and thus positions the latter with respect to the enzyme-bound Mn²+ for optimal phosphoryl transfer and catalysis. We have also identified Pro82 as a catalytically influential residue in this enzyme. Using molecular dynamics simulations we have noted that absence of ligands induces active-site lid opening in GTP-PEPCKS and we have made the first observation of the intermediary structures of the lid opening event, the dynamics of which is an important element that controls GTP-PEPCK catalysis. We have determined the first three-dimensional crystal structure of an archaeal-type Pepc, i.e. C. perfringens PepcA. Our experimental data also provide information about the oligomerization of PepcAs and reveal that aspartate inhibits the C. perfringens enzyme competitively compared to the allosteric inhibition in Pepcs. Structure-based modeling has led to the identification of putative aspartate- and bicarbonate-binding residues in C. perfringens PepcA, of which Arg82, His11, Ser201, Arg390, Lys340, Arg342 and Arg344 probably play an important role. Advisors/Committee Members: Mukhopadhyay, Biswarup (committeechair), White, Robert H. (committee member), Onufriev, Alexey V. (committee member), Carlier, Paul R. (committee member), Bevan, David R. (committee member).

Subjects/Keywords: phosphoenolpyruvate; structure-function; active-site lid; inhibition; PEP-Mn2+ distance; anion-quadrupole interaction

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APA (6th Edition):

Dharmarajan, L. (2010). Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases. (Doctoral Dissertation). Virginia Tech. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Dharmarajan, Lakshmi. “Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases.” 2010. Doctoral Dissertation, Virginia Tech. Accessed March 04, 2021.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Dharmarajan, Lakshmi. “Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases.” 2010. Web. 04 Mar 2021.


Dharmarajan L. Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Virginia Tech; 2010. [cited 2021 Mar 04]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Dharmarajan L. Structure-Function Studies on Two Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxylases. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Virginia Tech; 2010. Available from: