Members of the aspartase/fumarase superfamily share a common tertiary and quaternary fold, as well as a similar active site architecture; the superfamily includes aspartase, fumarase, argininosuccinate lyase, adenylosuccinate lyase, delta-crystallin, and 3-carboxy-cis,cis-muconate lactonizing enzyme (CMLE). These enzymes all process succinyl-containing substrates, leading to the formation of fumarate as the common product (except for the CMLE-catalyzed reaction, which results in the formation of a lactone). In the past few years, X-ray crystallographic analysis of several superfamily members in complex with substrate, product, or substrate analogues has provided detailed insights into their substrate binding modes and catalytic mechanisms. This structural work, combined with earlier mechanistic studies, revealed that members of the aspartase/fumarase superfamily use a common catalytic strategy, which involves general base-catalyzed formation of a stabilized aci-carboxylate (or enediolate) intermediate and the participation of a highly flexible loop, containing the signature sequence GSSxxPxKxN (named the SS loop), in substrate binding and catalysis.
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