DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M116.739862">

Activation of latent dihydroorotase from Aquifex aeolicus by pressure

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Journal of Biological Chemistry


Elevated hydrostatic pressure was used to probe conformational changes of Aquifex aeolicus dihydroorotase (DHO), which catalyzes the third step in de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis. The isolated protein, a 45-kDa monomer, lacks catalytic activity but becomes active upon formation of a dodecameric complex with aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATC). X-ray crystallographic studies of the isolated DHO and of the complex showed that association induces several major conformational changes in the DHO structure. In the isolated DHO, a flexible loop occludes the active site blocking the access of substrates. The loop is mostly disordered but is tethered to the active site region by several electrostatic and hydrogen bonds. This loop becomes ordered and is displaced from the active site upon formation of DHO-ATC complex. The application of pressure to the complex causes its timedependent dissociation and the loss of both DHO and ATC activities. Pressure induced irreversible dissociation of the obligate ATC trimer, and as a consequence the DHO is also inactivated. However, moderate hydrostatic pressure applied to the isolated DHO subunit mimics the complex formation and reversibly activates the isolated subunit in the absence of ATC, suggesting that the loop has been displaced from the active site. This effect of pressure is explained by the negative volume change associated with the disruption of ionic interactions and exposure of ionized amino acids to the solvent (electrostriction). The interpretation that the loop is relocated by pressure was validated by site-directed mutagenesis and by inhibition by small peptides that mimic the loop residues.

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DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M116.739862