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J Biol Chem. 1989 Jul 25;264(21):12510-9.

Lipid binding by Escherichia coli pyruvate oxidase is disrupted by small alterations of the carboxyl-terminal region.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


Escherichia coli pyruvate oxidase is a membrane-associated flavoprotein dehydrogenase which is greatly activated by lipids and detergents. The carboxyl-terminal region of the protein has been shown to play a critical role in the interaction with lipids. We report mutations generated by chemical and oligonucleotide-mediated site-directed mutagenesis of the poxB gene which result in enzymes defective in lipid activation. Nine mutants were isolated which encode enzymes with point mutations in the carboxyl-terminal segment of the protein. Two mutant lesions introduced termination codons giving enzymes lacking the last nine or three amino acids of the protein which were unable to interact with detergents in vitro and were unable to function in vivo. Of the missense mutants isolated, two were most informative. One was the substitution of Glu-564 with proline in the PoxB16 oxidase. This residue lies in the center of a putative lipid-binding amphipathic alpha-helix (Arg-558 to Thr-568) located close to the carboxyl terminus. Strains producing the PoxB16 oxidase were devoid of oxidase activity in vivo, the enzymes could not be activated by Triton X-100, and were activated poorly by phospholipids in vitro. These results indicated that the PoxB16 oxidase lacked normal lipid-binding ability. Another mutant oxidase (PoxB15) in which proline was substituted for Asp-560 at the beginning of the amphipathic alpha-helix had normal oxidase activity. These findings indicate that the amphipathic alpha-helix structure plays an essential role in the activation and lipid-binding properties of the enzyme. The second informative missense mutation was the substitution of the carboxyl-terminal arginine with glycine. This enzyme showed normal activation in vitro by phospholipids and some detergents, and somewhat reduced activity in vivo. This mutant enzyme appeared to dissociate from detergent vesicles more readily than does the normal enzyme. A model for the membrane interaction of the carboxyl terminus based on the properties of these mutant proteins is presented.

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