The multifunctional cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1) plays a crucial role in human steroid hormone synthesis (UniProtKB─P05093). It first carries out standard monooxygenase chemistry, converting pregnenolone (PREG) and progesterone (PROG) into 17OH-PREG and 17OH-PROG, utilizing a "Compound I"to initiate hydrogen abstraction and radical recombination in the classic "oxygen rebound"mechanism. Additionally, these hydroxylated products also serve as substrates in a second oxidative cycle which cleaves the 17-20 carbon-carbon bond to form dehydroepiandrosterone and androstenedione, which are key precursors in the generation of powerful androgens and estrogens. Interestingly, in humans, with 17OH-PREG, this so-called lyase reaction is more efficient than with 17OH-PROG, based on Kcat/Km values. In the present work, the asparagine residue at 202 position was replaced by serine, an alteration which can affect substrate orientation and control substrate preference for the lyase reaction. First, we report studies of solvent isotope effects for the N202S CYP17A1 mutant in the presence of 17OH-PREG and 17OH-PROG, which suggest that the ferric peroxo species is the predominant catalytically active intermediate in the lyase step. This conclusion is further supported by employing a combination of cryoradiolysis and resonance Raman techniques to successfully trap and structurally characterize the key reaction intermediates, including the peroxo, the hydroperoxo, and the crucial peroxo-hemiketal intermediate. Collectively, these studies show that the mutation causes active site structural changes that alter the H-bonding interactions with the key Fe-O-O fragment and the degree of protonation of the reactive ferric peroxo intermediate, thereby impacting lyase efficiency.
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