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Protein Sci. 1996 Jul;5(7):1290-300.

In vivo formation of allosteric aspartate transcarbamoylase containing circularly permuted catalytic polypeptide chains: implications for protein folding and assembly.

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley 94720-3206, USA.


Because the N- and C-terminal amino acids of the catalytic (c) polypeptide chains of Escherichia coli aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) are in close proximity to each other, it has been possible to form in vivo five different active ATCase variants in which the terminal regions of the wild-type c chains are linked in a continuous polypeptide chain and new termini are introduced elsewhere in either of the two structural domains of the c chain. These circularly permuted (cp) chains were produced by constructing tandem pyrB genes, which encode the c chain of ATCase, followed by application of PCR. Chains expressed in this way assemble efficiently in vivo to form active, stable ATCase variants. Three such variants have been purified and shown to have the kinetic and physical properties characteristic of wild-type ATCase composed of two catalytic (C) trimers and three regulatory (R) dimers. The values of Vmax for cpATCase122, cpATCase222, and cpATCase281 ranged from 16-21 mumol carbamoylaspartate per microgram per h, compared with 15 for wild-type ATCase, and the values for K0.5 for the variants were 4-17 mM aspartate, whereas wild-type ATCase exhibited a value of 6 mM. Hill coefficients for the three variants varied from 1.8 to 2.1, compared with 1.4 for the wild-type enzyme. As observed with wild-type ATCase, ATP activated the variants containing the circularly permuted chains, as shown by the lowering of K0.5 for aspartate and a decrease in the Hill coefficient (nH). In contrast, CTP caused both an increase in K0.5 and nH for the variants, just as observed with wild-type ATCase. Thus, the enzyme containing the permuted chains with widely diverse N- and C-termini exhibited the homotropic and heterotropic effects characteristic of wild-type ATCase. The decrease in the sedimentation coefficient of the variants caused by the binding of the bisubstrate ligand N-(phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartate (PALA) was also virtually identical to that obtained with wild-type ATCase, thereby indicating that these altered ATCase molecules undergo the analogous ligand-promoted allosteric transition from the taut (T) state to the relaxed (R) conformation. These ATCase molecules with new N- and C-termini widely dispersed throughout the c chains are valuable models for studying in vivo and in vitro folding of polypeptide chains.

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