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Phosphoketolase and transketolase are thiamine diphosphate-dependent enzymes and play a central role in the primary metabolism of bifidobacteria: the bifid shunt. The enzymes both catalyze phosphorolytic cleavage of xylulose 5-phosphate or fructose 6-phosphate in the first reaction step, but possess different substrate specificity in the second reaction step, where phospho­ketolase and transketolase utilize inorganic phosphate (Pi) and D-ribose 5-phosphate, respectively, as the acceptor substrate. Structures of Bifido­bacterium longum phosphoketolase holoenzyme and its complex with a putative inhibitor, phosphoenolpyruvate, were determined at 2.5 Å resolution by serial femto­second crystallography using an X-ray free-electron laser. In the complex structure, phosphoenolpyruvate was present at the entrance to the active-site pocket and plugged the channel to thiamine diphosphate. The phosphate-group position of phosphoenolpyruvate coincided well with those of xylulose 5-phosphate and fructose 6-phosphate in the structures of their complexes with transketolase. The most striking structural change was observed in a loop consisting of Gln546-Asp547-His548-Asn549 (the QN-loop) at the entrance to the active-site pocket. Contrary to the conformation of the QN-loop that partially covers the entrance to the active-site pocket (`closed form') in the known crystal structures, including the phosphoketolase holoenzyme and its complexes with reaction intermediates, the QN-loop in the current ambient structures showed a more compact conformation with a widened entrance to the active-site pocket (`open form'). In the phosphoketolase reaction, the `open form' QN-loop may play a role in providing the binding site for xylulose 5-phosphate or fructose 6-phosphate in the first step, and the `closed form' QN-loop may help confer specificity for Pi in the second step.

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PDB references: Bifidobacterium longum phosphoketolase, 7c8h; complex with phosphoenolpyruvate, 7c8i

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