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J Mol Biol. 1992 Apr 20;224(4):1115-26.

Comparison of the refined crystal structures of liganded and unliganded chicken, yeast and trypanosomal triosephosphate isomerase.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.


The refined crystal structures of chicken, yeast and trypanosomal triosephosphate isomerase (TIM) have been compared. TIM is known to exist in an "open" (unliganded) and "closed" (liganded) conformation. For chicken TIM only the refined open structure is available, whereas for yeast TIM and trypanosomal TIM refined structures of both the open and the closed structure have been used for this study. Comparison of these structures shows that the open structures of chicken TIM, yeast TIM and trypanosomal TIM are essentially identical. Also it is shown that the closed structures of yeast TIM and trypanosomal TIM are essentially identical. The conformational difference between the open and closed structures concerns a major shift (7 A) in loop-6. Minor shifts are observed in the two adjacent loops, loop-5 (1 A) and loop-7 (1 A). The pairwise comparison of the three different TIM barrels shows that the 105C alpha atoms of the core superimpose within 0.9 A. The sequences of these three TIMs have a pairwise sequence identity of approximately 50%. The residues that line the active site are 100% conserved. The residues interacting with each other across the dimer interface show extensive variability, but the direct hydrogen bonds between the two subunits are well conserved. The orientation of the two monomers with respect to each other is almost identical in the three different TIM structures. There are 56 (22%) conserved residues out of approximately 250 residues in 13 sequences. The functions of most of these conserved residues can be understood from the available open and closed structures of the three different TIMs. Some of these residues are quite far from the active site. For example, at a distance of 19 A from the active site there is a conserved saltbridge interaction between residues at the C-terminal ends of alpha-helix-6 and alpha-helix-7. This anchoring contrasts with the large conformational flexibility of loop-6 and loop-7 near the N termini of these helices. The flexibility of loop-6 is facilitated by a conserved large empty cavity near the N terminus of alpha-helix-6, which exists only in the open conformation.

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