Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Elevated production of the matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan is strongly implicated in epithelial tumor progression. Inhibition of synthesis of the hyaluronan precursor UDP-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcUA) therefore presents an emerging target for cancer therapy. Human UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase (hUGDH) catalyzes, in two NAD(+)-dependent steps without release of intermediate aldehyde, the biosynthetic oxidation of UDP-glucose (UDP-Glc) to UDP-GlcUA. Here, we present a structural characterization of the hUGDH reaction coordinate using crystal structures of the apoenzyme and ternary complexes of the enzyme bound with UDP-Glc/NADH and UDP-GlcUA/NAD(+). The quaternary structure of hUGDH is a disc-shaped trimer of homodimers whose subunits consist of two discrete α/β domains with the active site located in the interdomain cleft. Ternary complex formation is accompanied by rigid-body and restrained movement of the N-terminal NAD(+) binding domain, sequestering substrate and coenzyme in their reactive positions through interdomain closure. By alternating between conformations in and out of the active site during domain motion, Tyr(14), Glu(161), and Glu(165) participate in control of coenzyme binding and release during 2-fold oxidation. The proposed mechanism of hUGDH involves formation and breakdown of thiohemiacetal and thioester intermediates whereby Cys(276) functions as the catalytic nucleophile. Stopped-flow kinetic data capture the essential deprotonation of Cys(276) in the course of the first oxidation step, allowing the thiolate side chain to act as a trap of the incipient aldehyde. Because thiohemiacetal intermediate accumulates at steady state under physiological reaction conditions, hUGDH inhibition might best explore ligand binding to the NAD(+) binding domain.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





23877 - 23887


Catalysis, Coenzymes, Humans, NAD, Oxidation-Reduction, Protein Structure, Quaternary, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Structure-Activity Relationship, Uridine Diphosphate Glucose Dehydrogenase