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Biochemistry. 1999 Mar 9;38(10):3012-8.

Evidence for the direct transfer of the carboxylate of N5-carboxyaminoimidazole ribonucleotide (N5-CAIR) to generate 4-carboxy-5-aminoimidazole ribonucleotide catalyzed by Escherichia coli PurE, an N5-CAIR mutase.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Formation of 4-carboxy-5-aminoimidazole ribonucleotide (CAIR) in the purine pathway in most prokaryotes requires ATP, HCO3-, aminoimidazole ribonucleotide (AIR), and the gene products PurK and PurE. PurK catalyzes the conversion of AIR to N5-carboxyaminoimidazole ribonucleotide (N5-CAIR) in a reaction that requires both ATP and HCO3-. PurE catalyzes the unusual rearrangement of N5-CAIR to CAIR. To investigate the mechanism of this rearrangement, [4,7-13C]-N5-CAIR and [7-14C]-N5-CAIR were synthesized and separately incubated with PurE in the presence of ATP, aspartate, and 4-(N-succinocarboxamide)-5-aminoimidazole ribonucleotide (SAICAR) synthetase (PurC). The SAICAR produced was isolated and analyzed by NMR spectroscopy or scintillation counting, respectively. The PurC trapping of CAIR as SAICAR was required because of the reversibility of the PurE reaction. Results from both experiments reveal that the carboxylate group of the carbamate of N5-CAIR is transferred directly to generate CAIR without equilibration with CO2/HCO3- in solution. The mechanistic implications of these results relative to the PurE-only (CO2- and AIR-requiring) AIR carboxylases are discussed.

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