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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1990 Apr;278(1):26-34.

Metal-catalyzed oxidation of Escherichia coli glutamine synthetase: correlation of structural and functional changes.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Metal-catalyzed oxidation of proteins has been implicated in a variety of biological processes, particularly in the marking of proteins for subsequent proteolytic degradation. The metal-catalyzed oxidation of bacterial glutamine synthetase causes conformational, covalent, and functional alterations in the protein. To understand the structural basis of the functional changes, the time course of oxidative modification of glutamine synthetase was studied utilizing a nonenzymic model oxidation system consisting of ascorbate, oxygen, and iron. The structural modifications induced included: decreased thermal stability; weakening of subunit interactions; decrease in isoelectric point; introduction of carbonyl groups into amino acid side chains; and loss of two histidine residues. These changes did not denature the protein, but instead induced relatively subtle changes. Indeed, even the most extensively modified protein had a sedimentation velocity which was identical to that of the native enzyme. Comparison of the time courses of the structural and functional changes established that: (i) Loss of the metal binding site and of catalytic activity occurred with loss of one histidine per subunit; (ii) increased susceptibility to proteolysis occurred with loss of two histidine residues per subunit. Thus, oxidation at one site suffices to inactivate the enzyme, but two sites must be modified to induce susceptibility to proteolysis. The limited and specific changes induced by metal-catalyzed oxidation are consistent with a site-specific free radical mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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