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Biochemistry. 2002 Jul 2;41(26):8229-37.

Structural aspects of aldehyde dehydrogenase that influence dimer-tetramer formation.

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  • 1Biochemistry Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1153, USA.


Aldehyde dehydrogenases are isolated as dimers or tetramers but have essentially identical structures. The homotetramer (ALDH1 or ALDH2) is a dimer of dimers (A-B + C-D). In the tetrameric enzyme, Ser500 from subunit "D" interacts with Arg84, a conserved residue, from subunit "A". In the dimeric ALDH3 form, the interaction cannot exist. It has been proposed that the formation of the tetramer is prevented by the presence of a C-terminal tail in ALDH3 that is not present in ALDH1 or 2. To understand the forces that maintain the tetramer, deletion of the tail in ALDH3, addition of different tails in ALDH1, and mutations of different residues located in the dimer-dimer interface were made. Gel filtration of the recombinantly expressed enzymes demonstrated that no change in their oligomerization occurred. Urea denaturation showed a diminution to the stability of the ALDH1 mutants. The K(m) for propionaldehyde was similar to that of the wild-type enzyme, but the K(m) for NAD was altered. A double mutant of D80G and S82A produced an enzyme with the ability to form dimers and tetramers in a protein-concentration-dependent manner. Though stable, this dimeric form was inactive. The tetramer exhibited 10% activity compared with the wild type. Sequence alignment demonstrated that the hydrophobic surface area is increased in the tetrameric enzymes. The hydrophobic surface seems to be the main force that drives the formation of tetramers. The results indicated that residues 80 and 82 are involved in maintaining the tetramer after its assembly but the C-terminal extension contributes to the overall stability of the assembled protein.

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