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Biochem J. 2008 May 15;412(1):113-21. doi: 10.1042/BJ20071163.

Mutational analysis of conserved glycine residues 142, 143 and 146 reveals Gly(142) is critical for tetramerization of CTP synthase from Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 1X5.


CTPS (cytidine 5'-triphosphate synthase) catalyses the ATP-dependent formation of CTP from UTP using either ammonia or L-glutamine as the nitrogen source. Binding of the substrates ATP and UTP, or the product CTP, promotes oligomerization of CTPS from inactive dimers to active tetramers. In the present study, site-directed mutagenesis was used to replace the fully conserved glycine residues 142 and 143 within the UTP-binding site and 146 within the CTP-binding site of Escherchia coli CTPS. CD spectral analyses of wild-type CTPS and the glycine mutants showed a slight reduction of approximately 15% in alpha-helical content for G142A and G143A relative to G146A and wild-type CTPS, suggesting some local alterations in structure. Relative to wild-type CTPS, the values of k(cat)/K(m) for ammonia-dependent and glutamine-dependent CTP formation catalysed by G143A were reduced 22- and 16-fold respectively, whereas the corresponding values for G146A were reduced only 1.4- and 1.8-fold respectively. The glutaminase activity (k(cat)) of G146A was similar to that exhibited by the wild-type enzyme, whereas that of G143A was reduced 7.5-fold. G146A exhibited substrate inhibition at high concentrations of ammonia and a partial uncoupling of glutamine hydrolysis from CTP production. Although the apparent affinity (1/[S](0.5)) of G143A and G146A for UTP was reduced approximately 4-fold, G146A exhibited increased co-operativity with respect to UTP. Thus mutations in the CTP-binding site can affect UTP-dependent activity. Surprisingly, G142A was inactive with both ammonia and glutamine as substrates. Gel-filtration HPLC experiments revealed that both G143A and G146A were able to form active tetramers in the presence of ATP and UTP; however, nucleotide-dependent tetramerization of G142A was significantly impaired. Our observations highlight the sensitivity of the structure of CTPS to mutations in the UTP- and CTP-binding sites, with Gly(142) being critical for nucleotide-dependent oligomerization of CTPS to active tetramers. This 'structural sensitivity' may limit the number and/or types of mutations that could be selected for during the development of resistance to cytotoxic pyrimidine nucleotide analogues.

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