Biochemical characterisation of an allantoate-degrading enzyme from French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): the requirement of phenylhydrazine.

PMID 17594111


In tropical legumes like French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) or soybean (Glycine max), most of the atmospheric nitrogen fixed in nodules is used for synthesis of the ureides allantoin and allantoic acid, the major long distance transport forms of organic nitrogen in these species. The purpose of this investigation was to characterise the allantoate degradation step in Phaseolus vulgaris. The degradation of allantoin, allantoate and ureidoglycolate was determined "in vivo" using small pieces of chopped seedlings. With allantoate and ureidoglycolate as substrates, the determination of the reaction products required the addition of phenylhydrazine to the assay mixture. The protein associated with the allantoate degradation has been partially purified 22-fold by ultracentrifugation and batch separation with DEAE-Sephacel. This enzyme was specific for allantoate and could not use ureidoglycolate as substrate. The activity was completely dependent on phenylhydrazine, which acts as an activator at low concentrations and decreases the affinity of the enzyme for the substrate at higher concentrations. The optimal pH for the activity of the purified protein was 7.0 and the optimal temperature was 37 degrees C. The activity was completely inhibited by EDTA and only manganese partially restored the activity. The level of activity was lower in extracts obtained from leaves and fruits of French bean grown with nitrate than in plants actively fixing nitrogen and, therefore, relying on ureides as nitrogen supply. This is the first time that an allantoate-degrading activity has been partially purified and characterised from a plant extract. The allosteric regulation of the enzyme suggests a critical role in the regulation of ureide degradation.