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Biochemistry. 2013 Oct 8;52(40):7050-9. doi: 10.1021/bi400781z. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

Uncoupling of allosteric and oligomeric regulation in a functional hybrid enzyme constructed from Escherichia coli and human ribonucleotide reductase.

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Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University , Ithaca, New York 14853, United States.


An N-terminal-domain (NTD) and adjacent catalytic body (CB) make up subunit-α of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), the rate-limiting enzyme for de novo dNTP biosynthesis. A strong linkage exists between ligand binding at the NTD and oligomerization-coupled RNR inhibition, inducible by both dATP and nucleotide chemotherapeutics. These observations have distinguished the NTD as an oligomeric regulation domain dictating the assembly of inactive RNR oligomers. Inactive states of RNR differ between eukaryotes and prokaryotes (α6 in human versus α4β4 in Escherichia coli , wherein β is RNR's other subunit); however, the NTD structurally interconnects individual α2 or α2 and β2 dimeric motifs within the respective α6 or α4β4 complexes. To elucidate the influence of NTD ligand binding on RNR allosteric and oligomeric regulation, we engineered a human- E. coli hybrid enzyme (HE) where human-NTD is fused to E. coli -CB. Both the NTD and the CB of the HE bind dATP. The HE specifically partners with E. coli -β to form an active holocomplex. However, although the NTD is the sole physical tether to support α2 and/or β2 associations in the dATP-bound α6 or α4β4 fully inhibited RNR complexes, the binding of dATP to the HE NTD only partially suppresses HE activity and fully precludes formation of higher-order HE oligomers. We postulate that oligomeric regulation is the ultimate mechanism for potent RNR inhibition, requiring species-specific NTD-CB interactions. Such interdomain cooperativity in RNR oligomerization is unexpected from structural studies alone or biochemical studies of point mutants.

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