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Biochem J. 2003 Nov 15;376(Pt 1):209-17.

A role for calcium in the regulation of neutral trehalase activity in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

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  • 1Department of Genetics and Microbiology, Facultad de BiologĂ­a, University of Murcia, 30071 Murcia, Spain.


Neutral trehalases mobilize trehalose accumulated by fungal cells as a protective and storage carbohydrate. A structural feature of these enzymes is the presence of an EF-like motif similar to that shown by many Ca2+-binding proteins. In this study we provide direct evidence for physical binding of Ca2+ to neutral trehalase (Ntp1p) of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and show that aspartic residues at positions 97 and 108 in the conserved putative Ca2+-binding motif of Ntp1p appear to be responsible for this interaction. Mutations in these residues do not interfere with the ability of Ntp1p to associate in vivo with trehalose-6-phosphate synthase, but prevent activation of neutral trehalase triggered by the addition of glucose or by subjecting cells to stressing conditions. Strains expressing Ntp1p variants that are unable to bind Ca2+ partially resemble those devoid of the ntp1+ gene in terms of trehalose hyperaccumulation. Gel filtration of cell extracts from wild-type cells after EDTA treatment or from cells containing Ntp1p with mutations in aspartic acid residues within the Ca2+-binding site revealed that Ntp1p eluted mainly in an inactive conformation instead of the dimeric or trimeric active form of the enzyme. These results suggest that activation of S. pombe Ntp1p under different conditions depends upon Ca2+ binding through the Ca2+-binding motif as a prerequisite for correct enzyme oligomerization to its active form. Given the high degree of conservation of the Ca2+ accommodation site, this might be a general mechanism regulating neutral trehalase activity in other yeasts and filamentous fungi.

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