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J Biol Chem. 1985 Mar 25;260(6):3386-92.

The pH-dependent subunit dissociation and catalytic activity of bovine dopamine beta-hydroxylase.


The soluble form of dopamine beta-hydroxylase from bovine adrenal medulla has previously been shown to exist as a tetrameric species of Mr = 290,000 composed of two disulfide-linked dimers. Here we report that this enzyme can also undergo a reversible tetramerdimer dissociation which is dependent on pH. Gel permeation chromatography of dopamine beta-hydroxylase at pH 5.0 demonstrates a Stokes radius of 5.8 nm. When the pH is shifted to 5.7, the Stokes radius changes to 6.9 nm. Sedimentation equilibrium analysis of the purified enzyme demonstrates that this change in molecular size is due to a change in molecular weight. At low protein concentration, the estimated Mr of the enzyme is 145,000 at pH 5.0 and at high protein concentration approaches 290,000 at pH 5.7. This change in Mr is consistent with the existence of a tetramer-dimer dissociation and a change in the equilibrium constant from 1.8 X 10(-6) M to 1.16 X 10(-9) M when the pH is increased from 5.0 to 5.7. This pH-dependent subunit dissociation is correlated with pH-dependent changes in enzyme activity. Purified bovine-soluble dopamine beta-hydroxylase activity is a hyperbolic function of tyramine concentration at pH 5.0. However, the hydroxylase activity displays non-hyperbolic kinetics at pH 6.0. The kinetic data obtained at pH 6.0 can be accounted for by fitting to a model containing two nonidentical catalytic forms of enzyme generated by the pH-dependent partial dissociation of tetrameric enzyme to dimeric subunits. The two catalytic forms have apparently identical maximal velocities; however, they differ in their Michaelis constants for the substrate; the dimeric form having a low Km and the tetrameric form having a high Km. Since the pH inside bovine adrenal medullary chromaffin granules is approximately 5.5, we conclude that the subunits of dopamine beta-hydroxylase are in dynamic dissociation in a physiologically important pH range.

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