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Eur J Biochem. 1992 Apr 1;205(1):25-31.

Characterization of the endogenous ADP-ribosylation of wild-type and mutant elongation factor 2 in eukaryotic cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York.


Anti-[ADP-ribosylated elongation factor 2 (EF-2)] antiserum has been used to immunoprecipitate the modified form of EF-2 from polyoma-virus-transformed baby hamster kidney (pyBHK) cells [Fendrick, J. L. & Iglewski, W. J. (1989) Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 86, 554-557]. This antiserum also immunoprecipitates a 32P-labelled protein of similar size to EF-2 from a variety of primary and continuous cell lines derived from many species of animals. One of these cell lines, chinese hamster ovary CHO-K1 cells was further characterized. The time course of labelling of ADP-ribosylated EF-2 with [32P]orthophosphate was similar in pyBHK cells and in CHO-K1 cells. The kinetics of labelling were more rapid for cells cultured in 2% serum than 10% serum, with incorporation of 32P reaching a maximum at 6 h and 10 h, respectively. EF-2 mutants of pyBHK and CHO-K1 cells resistant to diphtheria-toxin-catalyzed ADP-ribosylation of EF-2 remain sensitive to cellular ADP-ribosylation of EF-2. The 32P-labelled moiety of ADP-ribosylated EF-2 was digested by snake venom phosphodiesterase and the product was identified as AMP. The same 32P-labelled tryptic peptide was modified by toxin in wild-type EF-2 and by the cellular transferase in mutant EF-2. When purified EF-2 from pyBHK cells was incubated with [carbonyl-14C]nicotinamide and diphtheria toxin fragment A, under conditions for reversal of the ADP-ribosylation reaction, [14C]NAD was generated. The results suggest that cellular ADP-ribosylated EF-2 exists in a variety of cell types, and the ribosylated product is identical to that produced by toxin ADP-ribosylation of EF-2, except in diphthamide mutant cells. Studies with the mutant cell lines indicate that the toxin and the cellular transferase, however, recognize different determinants at the ADP-ribose acceptor site in EF-2. The cellular transferase does not require the diphthamide modification of the histidine ring in the amino acid sequence of EF-2 for the transfer of ADP-ribose to the ring. Therefore, we would expect the cellular transferase active site to be similar to, but not identical to, the critical amino acids demonstrated in the active site of diphtheria toxin and Pseudomonas exotoxin A.

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