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Biochemistry. 2001 Aug 7;40(31):9317-23.

Mg2+-linked oligomerization modulates the catalytic activity of the Lon (La) protease from Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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Department of Biochemistry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Lon (La) proteases are multimeric enzymes that are activated by ATP and Mg(2+) ions and stimulated by unfolded proteins such as alpha-casein. The peptidase activity of the Lon protease from Mycobacterium smegmatis (Ms-Lon) is dependent upon both its concentration and that of Mg(2+). Addition of alpha-casein partially substitutes for Mg(2+) in activating the enzyme. In chemical dissociation experiments, higher concentrations of urea were required to inhibit Ms-Lon's catalytic activities after an addition of alpha-casein. Analytical ultracentrifugation was used to directly probe the effect of activators of peptidase activity on Ms-Lon self-association. Sedimentation velocity experiments reveal that Ms-Lon monomers are in a reversible equilibrium with oligomeric forms of the protein and that the self-association reaction is facilitated by Mg(2+) ions but not by AMP-PNP or ATP gamma S. NaCl at 100 mM facilitates oligomerization and stimulates peptidase activity at suboptimal concentrations of MgCl(2). Sedimentation equilibrium analysis shows that Ms-Lon associates to a hexamer at 50 mM Tris and 10 mM MgCl(2), at pH 8.0 and 20 degrees C, and that the assembly reaction is Mg(2+) dependent; the mole fraction of hexamer decreases with decreasing MgCl(2) to undetectable levels in 10 mM EDTA. The analysis of experiments conducted at a series of initial protein and MgCl(2) concentrations yields two assembly models: dimer <--> tetramer <--> hexamer and timer <--> hexamer, equally consistent with the data. Limited trypsin digestion, CD, and tryptophan fluorescence suggest only minor changes in secondary and tertiary structure upon Mg(2+)-linked oligomerization. These results show that activation of Ms-Lon peptidase activity requires oligomerization and that Ms-Lon self-association reaction is facilitated by its activator, Mg(2+), and stimulator, unfolded protein.

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