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J Biol Chem. 2003 Feb 21;278(8):6490-4. Epub 2002 Dec 12.

Identification of a novel protein with guanylyl cyclase activity in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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University of the Western Cape, Department of Biotechnology, Bellville, Private Bag X17, 7535, South Africa.


Guanylyl cyclases (GCs) catalyze the formation of the second messenger guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) from guanosine 5'-triphosphate (GTP). While many cGMP-mediated processes in plants have been reported, no plant molecule with GC activity has been identified. When the Arabidopsis thaliana genome is queried with GC sequences from cyanobacteria, lower and higher eukaryotes no unassigned proteins with significant similarity are found. However, a motif search of the A. thaliana genome based on conserved and functionally assigned amino acids in the catalytic center of annotated GCs returns one candidate that also contains the adjacent glycine-rich domain typical for GCs. In this molecule, termed AtGC1, the catalytic domain is in the N-terminal part. AtGC1 contains the arginine or lysine that participates in hydrogen bonding with guanine and the cysteine that confers substrate specificity for GTP. When AtGC1 is expressed in Escherichia coli, cell extracts yield >2.5 times more cGMP than control extracts and this increase is not nitric oxide dependent. Furthermore, purified recombinant AtGC1 has Mg(2+)-dependent GC activity in vitro and >3 times less adenylyl cyclase activity when assayed with ATP as substrate in the absence of GTP. Catalytic activity in vitro proves that AtGC1 can function either as a monomer or homo-oligomer. AtGC1 is thus not only the first functional plant GC but also, due to its unusual domain organization, a member of a new class of GCs.

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