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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 7;283(45):31047-57. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M805392200. Epub 2008 Sep 8.

Polyphosphatase activity of CthTTM, a bacterial triphosphate tunnel metalloenzyme.

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Molecular Biology Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Triphosphate tunnel metalloenzymes (TTMs) are a superfamily of phosphotransferases with a distinctive active site located within an eight-stranded beta barrel. The best understood family members are the eukaryal RNA triphosphatases, which catalyze the initial step in mRNA capping. The RNA triphosphatases characteristically hydrolyze nucleoside 5'-triphosphates in the presence of manganese and are inept at cleaving inorganic tripolyphosphate. We recently identified a TTM protein from the bacterium Clostridium thermocellum (CthTTM) with the opposite substrate preference. Here we report that CthTTM catalyzes hydrolysis of guanosine 5'-tetraphosphate to yield GTP and P(i) (K(m) = 70 microm, k(cat) = 170 s(-1)) much more effectively than it converts GTP to GDP and P(i) (K(m) = 70 microm, k(cat) = 0.3 s(-1)), implying that a nucleoside interferes when positioned too close to the tunnel entrance. CthTTM is capable of quantitatively cleaving diadenosine hexaphosphate but has feeble activity with shorter derivatives diadenosine tetraphosphate and diadenosine pentaphosphate. We propose that the tunnel opens to accommodate the dumbbell-shaped diadenosine hexaphosphate and then closes around it to perform catalysis. We find that CthTTM can exhaustively hydrolyze a long-chain inorganic polyphosphate, a molecule that plays important roles in bacterial physiology. CthTTM differs from other known polyphosphatases in that it yields a approximately 2:1 mixture of P(i) and PP(i) end products. Bacterial/archaeal TTMs have a C-terminal helix located near the tunnel entrance. Deletion of this helix from CthTTM exerts pleiotropic effects. (i) It suppresses hydrolysis of guanosine 5'-tetraphosphate and inorganic PPP(i); (ii) it stimulates NTP hydrolysis; and (iii) it biases the outcome of the long-chain polyphosphatase reaction more strongly in favor of P(i) production. We discuss models for substrate binding in the triphosphate tunnel.

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