Fom3, the antepenultimate enzyme in the fosfomycin biosynthetic pathway in Streptomyces spp., is a class B cobalamin-dependent radical SAM methyltransferase that catalyzes methylation of (5′-cytidylyl)-2-hydroxyethylphosphonate (2-HEP-CMP) to form (5′-cytidylyl)-2-hydroxypropylphosphonate (2-HPP-CMP). Previously, the reaction of Fom3 with 2-HEP-CMP produced 2-HPP-CMP with mixed stereochemistry at C2. Mechanistic characterization has been challenging because of insoluble expression and poor cobalamin (B12) incorporation in Escherichia coli. Recently, soluble E. coli expression and incorporation of cobalamin into Fom3 were achieved by overexpression of the BtuCEDFB cobalamin uptake system. Herein, we use this new method to obtain Fom3 from Streptomyces wedmorensis. We show that the initiator 5′-deoxyadenosyl radical stereospecifically abstracts the pro-R hydrogen atom from the C2 position of 2-HEP-CMP and use the downstream enzymes FomD and Fom4 to demonstrate that our preparation of Fom3 produces only (2S)-2-HPP-CMP. Additionally, we show that the added methyl group originates from SAM under multiple-turnover conditions, but the first turnover uses a methyl donor already present on the enzyme; furthermore, cobalamin isolated from Fom3 reaction mixtures contains methyl groups derived from SAM. These results are consistent with a model in which Fom3 catalyzes methyl transfer from SAM to cobalamin and the resulting methylcobalamin (MeCbl) is the ultimate methyl source for the reaction.
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