Fluoroacetate dehalogenase catalyzes the hydrolytic defluorination of fluoroacetate to produce glycolate. The enzyme is unique in that it catalyzes the cleavage of a carbon-fluorine bond of an aliphatic compound: the bond energy of the carbon-fluorine bond is among the highest found in natural products. The enzyme also acts on chloroacetate, although much less efficiently. We here determined the X-ray crystal structure of the enzyme from Burkholderia sp. strain FA1 as the first experimentally determined three-dimensional structure of fluoroacetate dehalogenase. The enzyme belongs to the α/β hydrolase superfamily and exists as a homodimer. Each subunit consists of core and cap domains. The catalytic triad, Asp104-His271-Asp128, of which Asp104 serves as the catalytic nucleophile, was found in the core domain at the domain interface. The active site was composed of Phe34, Asp104, Arg105, Arg108, Asp128, His271, and Phe272 of the core domain and Tyr147, His149, Trp150, and Tyr212 of the cap domain. An electron density peak corresponding to a chloride ion was found in the vicinity of the Nɛ1 atom of Trp150 and the Nɛ2 atom of His149, suggesting that these are the halide ion acceptors. Site-directed replacement of each of the active-site residues, except for Trp150, by Ala caused the total loss of the activity toward fluoroacetate and chloroacetate, whereas the replacement of Trp150 caused the loss of the activity only toward fluoroacetate. An interaction between Trp150 and the fluorine atom is probably an absolute requirement for the reduction of the activation energy for the cleavage of the carbon-fluorine bond
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