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J Biol Chem. 1987 Nov 25;262(33):16037-40.

The speEspeD operon of Escherichia coli. Formation and processing of a proenzyme form of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


We have previously shown that the gene (speD) for S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase is part of an operon that also contains the gene (speE) for spermidine synthase (Tabor, C. W., Tabor, H., and Xie, Q.-W. (1986) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 83, 6040-6044). We have now determined the nucleotide sequence of this operon and have found that speD codes for a polypeptide of Mr = 30,400, which is considerably greater than the subunit size of the purified enzyme. Our studies show that S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase is first formed as a Mr = 30,400 polypeptide and that this proenzyme is then cleaved at the Lys111-Ser112 peptide bond to form a Mr = 12,400 subunit and a Mr = 18,000 subunit. The latter subunit contains the pyruvoyl moiety that we previously showed is required for enzymatic activity. Both subunits are present in the purified enzyme. These conclusions are based on (i) pulse-chase experiments with a strain containing a speD+ plasmid which showed a precursor-product relationship between the proenzyme and the enzyme subunits, (ii) the amino acid sequence of the proenzyme form of S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (derived from the nucleotide sequence of the speD gene), and (iii) comparison of this sequence of the proenzyme with the N-terminal amino acid sequences of the two subunits of the purified enzyme reported by Anton and Kutny (Anton, D. L., and Kutny, R. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 2817-2822).

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