Pantothenate synthetase (PS), which catalyzes the last step in the pantothenate (vitamin B5) biosynthesis, is a dimeric enzyme present in bacteria, fungi and plants. The enzymatic properties of PS from Escherichia Coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosi, Fusarium Oxysporum, Lotus japonicus, Oryza sativum, Brassica napus and Arabidopsis thaliana have been characterized. The chemical reaction and the proposed mechanism of reaction are identical for PS, irrespective of the source. However, from an enzyme mechanistic point of view, plant PS’s are dissimilar to their bacterial counterparts, in that they exhibit “allosteric behavior”, a property that has not been observed in the bacterial enzyme. The behavior is quite remarkable when one takes into consideration the fact that plant PS’s share a high degree of sequence identity (~ 40%) with the bacterial enzymes. Even more intriguing is the structural mechanism proposed to explain the observed differences in structure between the PS’s from E.Coli and M.tb, which share a 42% sequence identity. Till date there is no structural information available on the plant PS’s and of the substrate bound conformation of E.coli PS. This thesis aims to provide an understanding on some aspects of the structure – function relationship of this physiologically important enzyme. Specifically, the solution properties of E. coli PS have been examined using high-resolution multinuclear, multidimensional NMR methods. Given the large size of the full-length protein (~ 63 KDa), the structurally distinct N and C-terminal domains were cloned and expressed as individual proteins and their properties investigated. Towards this end, the tertiary fold of the 40 kDa dimeric amino-terminal domain of E. coli pantothenate synthetase has been determined using multidimensional multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods (PDB entry 2k6c). Sequence specific resonance assignments for backbone HN, 15N, 13Cα, 13C', sidechain 13Cβ and aliphatic 13CH3 (of isoleucine, leucine and valine residues) were obtained using perdeuterated ILV-methyl protonated samples (BMRB entry 6940). Secondary structure of nPS was determined from 13C secondary chemical shifts and from short and medium range NOEs. Global fold of the 40 kDa homo-dimeric nPS has been determined using a total of 1012 NOEs, 696 dihedral angles, 260 RDCs, 155 hydrogen bonds, radius of gyration potential, non-crystallographic symmetry potential and database derived potential based upon the Ramachandran map. The calculated structures, which show that the N-terminal domain forms a homo-dimer in solution, is of high stereochemical quality as judged by the Ramachandran statistics (70% of the residues have backbone dihedral angles in the allowed region, 25.5% in the additionally allowed region, 4.0% in generously allowed region, and only 0.5% in disallowed region). Dynamics of nPS, which has rotational correlation time τc of 17.3 ns, was investigated by 15N relaxometry measurements. Results of these studies indicate that the E. coli protein exhibits dynamic nature at the dimer interface. These structural and dynamic features of the protein were found to be of interest when correlated with NMR based substrate binding studies. Interaction of homo-dimeric amino-terminal domain (nPS) of E. coli pantothenate synthetase (PS; encoded by the gene panC; E.C. 126.96.36.199) with the substrates pantoate, β-alanine, ATP and the product pantothenate has been studied using isotopically edited solution NMR methods. Addition of pantoate prior to ATP has led to the interesting observation that pantoate binds each monomer of nPS at two sites. ATP displaces a molecule of pantoate from the ATP binding site. β-alanine and pantothenate do not bind the protein under the condition studied. Binding of pantoate and ATP also manifests as changes in residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) of backbone 1H-15N pairs in nPS when compared to the free form of the protein. Structures of homo-dimeric nPS bound to two molecules of pantoate (PDB entry 2k6e) as well as to pantoate + ATP (PDB entry 2k6f) were calculated by inclusion of hydrogen bonds between the ligands and backbone 1H-15N pairs of nPS in addition to other NMR derived restraints. The ligand bound structures have been compared to the similar forms of the M. tb PS. Structure of each monomer of nPS bound to pantoate and ATP shows the substrates in a favorable orientation for the intermediate pantoyl adenylate to form. Moreover, at all stages of substrate binding the symmetry of the dimer was preserved. A single set of resonances was observed for all protein-ligand complexes implying symmetric binding with full-occupancy of the ligands bound to the protein. In an effort to understand the structural basis of the observed enzymatic properties of plant PS’s, a structural model of the Arabidopsis PS was constructed. The results of these structural and substrate binding studies strongly suggest that 1 Substrate binding to PS occurs only at the active site. 2 There are no additional substrate binding sites which could potentially participate as regulatory sites. 3 Pantoate does not bind at the dimer interface to induce the observed homotropic effects. 4 The structural results presented on the substrate bound forms of nPS have direct implication for the development of novel antibacterial and herbicidal agents. Recently a great deal of interest has been evinced on the effects of molecular crowding on protein folding / unfolding pathways. Nuclear magnetic resonance is the only method by which high resolution structural information can be obtained on partially denatured states of a protein under equilibrium condition. Recent methodological advances have enabled the determination of high resolution structures using information embedded in the residual dipolar couplings. Molecular crowding using confinement may thus reveal important details about chaperone mediated protein folding. We have attempted to develop a protocol to study the effects of molecular confinement by sequestering proteins in poly-acrylamide gels and then subjecting these protein molecules to denaturation and then characterize these states by nuclear magnetic resonance. The preliminary results of these studies are described here
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