The sequences and three-dimensional structures of the galactokinase, homoserine kinase, mevalonate kinase, and phosphomevalonate kinase (GHMP) family were compared to identify highly conserved surface residues. The functions of these solvent-accessible residues were assessed by determining the effects of their substitution, via mutagenesis, on the initial-rate parameters of a representative member of the GHMP kinase family, phosphomevalonate kinase from Streptococcus pneumoniae. What emerges from this study is a profile of the conserved surface-linked functions of the family. Certain substitutions produce highly selective effects on the steady-state affinity of a particular substrate, while one residue, Asp150, appears to be a pure kcat effector. Substitutions elsewhere affect multiple initial-rate parameters with varying, and sometimes compensatory, patterns. An α-helix that repositions during catalysis was substituted along its length to assess how its different segments contribute to catalysis - the substrate-proximal edge of the helix affects ATP recognition and kcat, while the distal edge affects recognition of both substrates without affecting turnover. GHMP kinase mutations at the conserved surface residues corresponding to Ser291 and Ala293 in phosphomevalonate kinase are linked to mevalonic acid deficiency, which can lead to early fatality, and galactokinase deficiency, which causes cataracts. Our results suggest that the molecular basis for this particular galactokinase deficiency is an increase in the Km for galactose.
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