A fundamental difference between enzymes and small chemical catalysts is the ability of enzymes to use binding interactions with nonreactive portions of substrates to accelerate chemical reactions. Remote binding interactions can localize substrates to the active site, position substrates relative to enzymatic functional groups and other substrates, trigger conformational changes, induce local destabilization, and modulate an active site environment by solvent exclusion. We investigated the role of remote substrate binding interactions in the reaction catalyzed by the enzyme ketosteroid isomerase (KSI), which catalyzes a double bond migration of steroid substrates through a dienolate intermediate that is stabilized in an oxyanion hole. Comparison of a single-ring and multiple-ring substrate allowed the catalytic contribution of binding interactions with the distal substrate rings to be determined. The value of k(cat)/K(M) for a single-ring substrate is reduced 27,000-fold relative to a multiple-ring steroid substrate, suggesting that remote binding interactions with the steroid substrate contribute substantially to the KSI reaction. Nevertheless, the reaction rates for KSI-bound single- and multiple-ring substrates (k(cat)) are within 2-fold. Further, oxyanion hole mutations have the same effect on reactions of the single- and multiple-ring substrates. These results suggest that remote binding interactions contribute >5 kcal/mol to catalysis by KSI but that local rather than remote interactions dictate the catalytic contributions from KSI's general base and oxyanion hole.
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