Proline utilization A (PutA) is a bifunctional enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of proline to glutamate. Structures of type A PutAs have revealed the catalytic core consisting of proline dehydrogenase (PRODH) and Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate dehydrogenase (P5CDH) modules connected by a substrate-channeling tunnel. Type B PutAs also have a C-terminal domain of unknown function (CTDUF) that is absent in type A PutAs. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), mutagenesis, and kinetics are used to determine the contributions of this domain to PutA structure and function. The 1127-residue Rhodobacter capsulatus PutA (RcPutA) is used as a representative CTDUF-containing type B PutA. The reaction progress curve for the coupled PRODH-P5CDH activity of RcPutA does not exhibit a time lag, implying a substrate channeling mechanism. RcPutA is monomeric in solution, which is unprecedented for PutAs. SAXS rigid body modeling with target-decoy validation is used to build a model of RcPutA. On the basis of homology to aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs), the CTDUF is predicted to consist of a β-hairpin fused to a noncatalytic Rossmann fold domain. The predicted tertiary structural interactions of the CTDUF resemble the quaternary structural interactions in the type A PutA dimer interface. The model is tested by mutagenesis of the dimerization hairpin of a type A PutA and the CTDUF hairpin of RcPutA. Similar functional phenotypes are observed in the two sets of variants, supporting the hypothesis that the CTDUF mimics the type A PutA dimer interface. These results suggest annotation of the CTDUF as an ALDH superfamily domain that facilitates P5CDH activity and substrate channeling by stabilizing the aldehyde-binding site and sealing the substrate-channeling tunnel from the bulk medium.
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