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PLoS One. 2015 Apr 17;10(4):e0123379. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123379. eCollection 2015.

Structural effects of protein aging: terminal marking by deamidation in human triosephosphate isomerase.

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Laboratorio de Bioquímica-Genética, Instituto Nacional de Pediatría, Secretaría de Salud, México, D.F., México.
Departamento de Bioquímica Y Biología Estructural, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., México.


Deamidation, the loss of the ammonium group of asparagine and glutamine to form aspartic and glutamic acid, is one of the most commonly occurring post-translational modifications in proteins. Since deamidation rates are encoded in the protein structure, it has been proposed that they can serve as molecular clocks for the timing of biological processes such as protein turnover, development and aging. Despite the importance of this process, there is a lack of detailed structural information explaining the effects of deamidation on the structure of proteins. Here, we studied the effects of deamidation on human triosephosphate isomerase (HsTIM), an enzyme for which deamidation of N15 and N71 has been long recognized as the signal for terminal marking of the protein. Deamidation was mimicked by site directed mutagenesis; thus, three mutants of HsTIM (N15D, N71D and N15D/N71D) were characterized. The results show that the N71D mutant resembles, structurally and functionally, the wild type enzyme. In contrast, the N15D mutant displays all the detrimental effects related to deamidation. The N15D/N71D mutant shows only minor additional effects when compared with the N15D mutation, supporting that deamidation of N71 induces negligible effects. The crystal structures show that, in contrast to the N71D mutant, where minimal alterations are observed, the N15D mutation forms new interactions that perturb the structure of loop 1 and loop 3, both critical components of the catalytic site and the interface of HsTIM. Based on a phylogenetic analysis of TIM sequences, we propose the conservation of this mechanism for mammalian TIMs.

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