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Functional asymmetry for the active sites of linked 5-aminolevulinate synthase and 8-amino-7-oxononanoate synthase

Latest updated: May 29, 2020

Authors: Tracy D.Turbeville, Junshun Zhang, W.Christopher, Adams Gregory, A.Hunter, Gloria C.Ferreira

Ref: Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics Volume 511, Issues 1–2, July 2011, Pages 107-117



5-Aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS) and 8-amino-7-oxononanoate synthase (AONS) are homodimeric members of the α-oxoamine synthase family of pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP)-dependent enzymes. Previously, linking two ALAS subunits into a single polypeptide chain dimer yielded an enzyme (ALAS/ALAS) with a significantly greater turnover number than that of wild-type ALAS. To examine the contribution of each active site to the enzymatic activity of ALAS/ALAS, the catalytic lysine, which also covalently binds the PLP cofactor, was substituted with alanine in one of the active sites. Albeit the chemical rate for the pre-steady-state burst of ALA formation was identical in both active sites of ALAS/ALAS, the kcat values of the variants differed significantly (4.4 ± 0.2 vs. 21.6 ± 0.7 min−1) depending on which of the two active sites harbored the mutation. We propose that the functional asymmetry for the active sites of ALAS/ALAS stems from linking the enzyme subunits and the introduced intermolecular strain alters the protein conformational flexibility and rates of product release. Moreover, active site functional asymmetry extends to chimeric ALAS/AONS proteins, which while having a different oligomeric state, exhibit different rates of product release from the two ALAS and two AONS active sites due to the created intermolecular strain.


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