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Biochemistry. 1995 Jan 24;34(3):773-81.

Structure of the isolated catalytic domain of diphtheria toxin.

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  • 1Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1570.


The structure of the isolated catalytic domain of diphtheria toxin at pH 5.0 was determined by X-ray crystallography at 2.5 A resolution and refined to an R-factor of 19.7%. The domain is bound to its endogenous inhibitor adenylyl(3'-->5')uridine 3'-monophosphate (ApUp). The structure of this 190-residue domain, which was expressed in and isolated from Escherichia coli, is essentially identical to the structure of the catalytic domain within whole diphtheria toxin determined at pH 7.5. However, there are two adjacent surface loops (loop 66-78 and loop 169-176) that exhibit clear differences when compared to the structure of the catalytic domain in whole diphtheria toxin. Although both loops are at the surface of the protein and are relatively flexible, the chain trace is well-defined in the electron density. The main structural difference is the closer approach of loops 66-78 and 169-176. We ascribe this structural change mainly to the absence of the neighboring transmembrane domain in the isolated catalytic domain as compared to whole diphtheria toxin. We suggest that this change represents the first step of the structural transition from the catalytic domain in whole diphtheria toxin to the translocated form of the domain. The changes are described in detail, and their implications for membrane translocation are discussed.

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