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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1998 Oct 15;358(2):222-31.

A highly active protein repair enzyme from an extreme thermophile: the L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase from Thermotoga maritima.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 90095-1569, USA.


We show that the open reading frame in the Thermotoga maritima genome tentatively identified as the pcm gene (R. V. Swanson et al., J. Bacteriol. 178, 484-489, 1996) does indeed encode a protein L-isoaspartate (D-aspartate) O-methyltransferase (EC and that this protein repair enzyme displays several novel features. We expressed the 317 amino acid pcm gene product of this thermophilic bacterium in Escherichia coli as a fusion protein with an N-terminal 20 residue hexa-histidine-containing sequence. This protein contains a C-terminal domain of approximately 100 residues not previously seen in this enzyme from various prokaryotic or eukaryotic species and which does not have sequence similarity to any other entry in the GenBank databases. The C-terminal region appears to be required for enzymatic function as no activity is detected in two recombinant constructs lacking this domain. Sedimentation equilibrium analysis indicated that the enzyme is monomeric in solution. The Km values for measured for peptide and protein substrates were found to be intermediate between those of the high-affinity human enzyme and those of the lower-affinity wheat, nematode, and E. coli enzymes. The enzyme was extremely heat stable, with no loss of activity after 60 min at 100 degreesC. Enzyme activity was observed at temperatures as high as 93 degreesC with an optimal activity of 164 nmol/min/mg protein at 85 degreesC. This activity is approximately 18-fold higher than the maximal activities of mesophilic homologs at 37 degreesC. These data suggest that the Thermotoga enzyme has unique features for initiating repair in damaged proteins containing L-isoaspartyl residues at elevated temperatures.

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