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J Biol Chem. 1996 May 3;271(18):10704-8.

Intrinsic activity and stability of bifunctional human UMP synthase and its two separate catalytic domains, orotate phosphoribosyltransferase and orotidine-5'-phosphate decarboxylase.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7260, USA.


Human UMP synthase is a bifunctional protein containing two separate catalytic domains, orotate phosphoribosyltransferase (EC and orotidine-5'-phosphate decarboxylase (EC These studies address the question of why the last two reactions in pyrimidine nucleotide synthesis are catalyzed by a bifunctional enzyme in mammalian cells, but by two separate enzymes in microorganisms. From existing data on subunit associations of the respective enzymes and calculations showing the molar concentration of enzyme to be far lower in mammalian cells than in microorganisms, we hypothesize that the covalent union in UMP synthase stabilizes the domains containing the respective catalytic centers. Evidence supporting this hypothesis comes from studies of stability of enzyme activity in vitro, at physiological concentrations, of UMP synthase, the two isolated catalytic domains prepared by site-directed mutagenesis of UMP synthase, and the yeast ODCase. The two engineered domains have activities very similar to the native UMP synthase, but unlike the bifunctional protein, the domains are quite unstable under conditions promoting the dissociated monomer.

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