Life span regulation and inhibition of gene silencing in yeast have been linked to nicotinamide effects on Sir2 enzymes. The Sir2 enzymes are NAD+-dependent protein deacetylases that influence gene expression by forming deacetylated proteins, nicotinamide and 2′-O-acetyl-ADPR. Nicotinamide is a base-exchange substrate as well as a biologically effective inhibitor. Characterization of the base-exchange reaction reveals that nicotinamide regulates sirtuins by switching between deacetylation and base exchange. Nicotinamide switching is quantitated for the Sir2s from Archeaglobus fulgidus (Sir2Af2), Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Sir2p), and mouse (Sir2α). Inhibition of deacetylation was most effective for mouse Sir2α, suggesting species-dependent development of this regulatory mechanism. The Sir2s are proposed to form a relatively stable covalent intermediate between ADPR and the acetyl oxygen of the acetyllysine-protein substrate. During the lifetime of this intermediate, nicotinamide occupation of the catalytic site determines the fate of the covalent complex. Saturation of the nicotinamide site for mouse, yeast, and bacterial Sir2s causes 95, 65, and 21% of the intermediate, respectively, to return to acetylated protein. The fraction of the intermediate committed to deacetylation results from competition between the nicotinamide and the neighboring 2′-hydroxyl group at the opposite stereochemical face. Nicotinamide switching supports the previously proposed Sir2 catalytic mechanism and the existence of a 1′-O-peptidyl-ADPR·Sir2 intermediate. These findings suggest a strategy for increasing Sir2 enzyme catalytic activity in vivo by inhibition of chemical exchange but not deacetylation.
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