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Protein Sci. 1993 Jun;2(6):1042-52.

Purification and characterization of Klebsiella aerogenes UreE protein: a nickel-binding protein that functions in urease metallocenter assembly.

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Department of Microbiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1101.


The Klebsiella aerogenes ureE gene product was previously shown to facilitate assembly of the urease metallocenter (Lee, M.H., et al., 1992, J. Bacteriol. 174, 4324-4330). UreE protein has now been purified and characterized. Although it behaves as a soluble protein, UreE is predicted to possess an amphipathic beta-strand and exhibits unusually tight binding to phenyl-Sepharose resin. Immunogold electron microscopic studies confirm that UreE is a cytoplasmic protein. Each dimeric UreE molecule (M(r) = 35,000) binds 6.05 + 0.25 nickel ions (Kd of 9.6 +/- 1.3 microM) with high specificity according to equilibrium dialysis measurements. The nickel site in UreE was probed by X-ray absorption and variable-temperature magnetic circular dichroism spectroscopies. The data are most consistent with the presence of Ni(II) in pseudo-octahedral geometry with 3-5 histidyl imidazole ligands. The remaining ligands are nitrogen or oxygen donors. UreE apoprotein has been crystallized and analyzed by X-ray diffraction methods. Addition of nickel ion to apoprotein crystals leads to the development of fractures, consistent with a conformational change upon binding nickel ion. We hypothesize that UreE binds intracellular nickel ion and functions as a nickel donor during metallocenter assembly into the urease apoprotein.

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