Sterol methyltransferase2: Purification, properties, and inhibition

Wenxu Zhou, W. David Nes

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28 Scopus citations


Expression of the Arabidopsis sterol methyltransferase2 (SMT2) cDNA in Escherichia coli yields a native protein, when purified to homogeneity, has the predicted molecular mass ca. 40kDa on SDS-PAGE and recognizes native sterols synthesized by Arabidopsis with a Δ24(25)-bond (cycloartenol; Km 35μM and kcat 0.001s-1) and Δ 24(28)-bond (24(28)-methylenelophenol; Km 28μM and kcat 0.01s-1). Cycloartenol was converted to a single olefinic product-24(28)-methylenecycloartanol whereas 24(28)-methylenelophenol was converted to a mixture of three stereochemically related products with the Δ24(28)Z-ethylidene, Δ24(28)E-ethylidene, and Δ25(27)-24β-ethyl side chains. Structural determinants essential to activity were the nucleophilic features at C-3 and C-24. The double bond position in the sterol substrate influenced catalytic efficiency according to the order: side chain, Δ24(24)24(28) and nucleus, Δ785=9,19-cyclopropane. The 14α-methyl group was harmful to catalysis, reducing the suitability of cycloartenol as a substrate. On the basis of substrate activity and product distribution, SMT action was probed further using substrate (26,27-dehydrozymosterol: 26,27-DHZ) and intermediate (25-azacycloartenol: 25-AC) analogs of the SMT-catalyzed reactions. 26,27-DHZ was C-methylated to 26-homocholesta-8(9), 23(24)E, 26(26′)-trienol as well as 26-homocholesta-8(9),26(26′)-3β, 24β-dienol by SMT2, Km of 15μM, kcat of 0.001s-1. In addition, 26,27-DHZ acted as a mechanism-based irreversible inhibitor that results in the specific covalent modification of SMT2, exhibiting Ki of 49μM, kinact of 0.009s -1 and partition ratio of 0.11. Substrate protection with zymosterol, 24(28)-methylenelophenol against 26,27-DHZ and similar inhibition of the first and second C1-transfer activities by the reversible inhibitor 25-AC of Ki 20nM suggested the analogs interacted at the same active site. [28E-2H]- and [28Z-2H]24(28)-methylenelanosterols were paired with AdoMet and differences of 2H-incorporation in the enzyme-generated 24-ethyl olefins supported an antimechanism. The results suggest plant SMT2 has a position-specific substrate specificity for Δ24(25)-sterols and contains a single active center to catalyze the consecutive C1-transfer activities by substrate reaction channels similar to the fungal SMT1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-34
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003


  • 26,27-Dehydrozymosterol
  • AdoMet-dependent methyltransferase enzyme
  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Cycloartenol
  • Sitosterol
  • Stereochemistry
  • Sterol methyltransferase


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