gamma-Glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT) (EC 188.8.131.52) was purified from the periplasmic fraction of Escherichia coli K-12 to electrophoretic homogeneity. The final purification step, chromatofocusing, gave two protein peaks showing GGT activity (fractions A and B). The major heavy fraction (fraction A) consisted of two different subunits, with molecular weights of 39,200 and 22,000. The minor light fraction (fraction B) consisted of those with molecular weights of 38,600 and 22,000. Fraction A catalyzes the hydrolysis and transpeptidation of all gamma-glutamyl compounds tested, but it prefers basic amino acids and aromatic amino acids as acceptors. The apparent Km values for glutathione and gamma-glutamyl-p-nitroanilide as gamma-glutamyl donors in the transpeptidation reaction were both 35 microM, and those for glycylglycine and L-arginine as acceptors were 0.59 and 0.21 M, respectively. The enzyme was inhibited by some amino acids and by protease inhibitors and affinity-labeling reagents for GGT. The temperature stability of the purified GGT supports our hypothesis that E. coli GGT is synthesized only at lower temperature rather than that the synthesized GGT is degraded or inactivated at higher temperature
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