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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 29;278(35):33049-55. Epub 2003 May 27.

Eukaryotic NAD+ synthetase Qns1 contains an essential, obligate intramolecular thiol glutamine amidotransferase domain related to nitrilase.

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Structural Biology and Bioinformatics Program, Kimmel Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


NAD+ is an essential co-enzyme for redox reactions and is consumed in lysine deacetylation and poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation. NAD+ synthetase catalyzes the final step in NAD+ synthesis in the well characterized de novo, salvage, and import pathways. It has been long known that eukaryotic NAD+ synthetases use glutamine to amidate nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide while many purified prokaryotic NAD+ synthetases are ammonia-dependent. Earlier, we discovered that glutamine-dependent NAD+ synthetases contain N-terminal domains that are members of the nitrilase superfamily and hypothesized that these domains function as glutamine amidotransferases for the associated synthetases. Here we show yeast glutamine-dependent NAD+ synthetase Qns1 requires both the nitrilase-related active-site residues and the NAD+ synthetase active-site residues for function in vivo. Despite failure to complement the lethal phenotype of qns1 disruption, the former mutants retain ammonia-dependent NAD+ synthetase activity in vitro, whereas the latter mutants retain basal glutaminase activity. Moreover, the two classes of mutants fail to trans-complement despite forming a stable heteromultimer in vivo. These data indicate that the nitrilase-related domain in Qns1 is the fourth independently evolved glutamine amidotransferase domain to have been identified in nature and that glutamine-dependence is an obligate phenomenon involving intramolecular transfer of ammonia over a predicted distance of 46 A from one active site to another within Qns1 monomers.

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