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Biochemistry. 1992 Jun 2;31(21):5022-32.

Purification and characterization of the purE, purK, and purC gene products: identification of a previously unrecognized energy requirement in the purine biosynthetic pathway.

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


Aminoimidazole riobnucleotide carboxylase, the sixth step in the purine biosynthetic pathway, catalyzes the conversion of aminoimidazole ribonucleotide (AIR) to carboxyaminoimidazole ribonucleotide (CAIR). The gene products of the purE and purK genes (PurE and PurK, respectively) thought to be responsible for this activity have been overexpressed and the proteins purified to homogeneity. PurE separates from PurK in the first ammonium sulfate fractionation during the purification. No evidence for association of the two gene products under a variety of conditions using a variety of methods could be obtained. To facilitate the assay for CAIR production, the purC gene product, 5-aminoimidazole-4-N-succinylcarboxamide ribonucleotide (SAICAR) synthetase has also been overexpressed and purified to homogeneity. The activities of PurE, PurK, and PurE.PurK have been investigated. PurE alone is capable of catalyzing the conversion of AIR to CAIR 1 million times faster than the nonenzymatic rate. The Km for HCO3- in the PurE-dependent reaction is 110 mM! PurK possesses an ATPase activity that is dependent on the presence of AIR. No bicarbonate dependence on this reaction could be demonstrated (less than 100 microM), and AIR is not carboxylated during the hydrolysis of ATP. Incubation of a 1:1 mixture of PurE and PurK at low concentrations of bicarbonate (less than 100 microM) revealed that CAIR is produced but requires the stoichiometric conversion of ATP to ADP and Pi. No dependence on the concentration of HCO3- could be demonstrated. A new energy requirement in the purine biosynthetic pathway has been established.

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