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Plant J. 1997 Feb;11(2):251-62.

Cysteine synthesis in plants: protein-protein interactions of serine acetyltransferase from Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Lehrstuhl für Pflanzenphysiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.


The biosynthesis of cysteine represents the final step of sulfate assimilation in bacteria and plants. It is catalyzed by the sequential action of serine acetyltransferase (SAT) and O-acetylserine (thiol) lyase (OAS-TL) which form a cysteine synthase (CS) complex in vitro. SAT and OAS-TL from Arabidopsis thaliana have previously been cloned, and now the first evidence is presented for the CS complex and SAT self-interaction in vivo employing the yeast two-hybrid system. Application of this method proved to be an efficient tool for the analysis of protein-protein interactions within a plant metabolic protein complex. Mapping of SAT domain structure revealed two new, independent domains with specific functions in protein-protein interaction. Analysis using truncated proteins proved the C-terminus of SAT to be sufficient for association with OAS-TL and to correlate with the putative transferase activity domain. SAT/SAT interaction was localized in the central region of the protein and occurred also between SAT isoforms. Both protein interaction domains coincided with distinct alpha-helical and beta-sheet clusters and together correlated with the minimal protein structure required for SAT catalysis as shown by functional complementation of an Escherichia coli mutant. The homo- and hetero-oligomerization properties are discussed with respect to the assumed function of the CS complex in metabolic channeling and activation of SAT by interaction with OAS-TL.

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