Biotin protein ligase as you like it: Either extraordinarily specific or promiscuous protein biotinylation

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Biotin (vitamin H or B7) is a coenzyme essential for all forms of life. Biotin has biological activity only when covalently attached to a few key metabolic enzyme proteins. Most organisms have only one attachment enzyme, biotin protein ligase (BPL), which attaches biotin to all target proteins. The sequences of these proteins and their substrate proteins are strongly conserved throughout biology. Structures of both the biotin ligase- and biotin-acceptor domains of mammals, plants, several bacterial species, and archaea have been determined. These, together with mutational analyses of ligases and their protein substrates, illustrate the exceptional specificity of this protein modification. For example, the Escherichia coli BPL biotinylates only one of the >4000 cellular proteins. Several bifunctional bacterial biotin ligases transcriptionally regulate biotin synthesis and/or transport in concert with biotinylation. The human BPL has been demonstrated to play an important role in that mutations in the BPL encoding gene cause one form of the disease, biotin-responsive multiple carboxylase deficiency. Promiscuous mutant versions of several BPL enzymes release biotinoyl-AMP, the active intermediate of the ligase reaction, to solvent. The released biotinoyl-AMP acts as a chemical biotinylation reagent that modifies lysine residues of neighboring proteins in vivo. This proximity-dependent biotinylation (called BioID) approach has been heavily utilized in cell biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-448
Number of pages14
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry


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