The Biochemical journal

Identification of "buried" lysine residues in two variants of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase specified by R-factors.

PMID 6796049


Two variants of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase which are specified by genes on plasmids found in Gram-negative bacteria were subjected to amidination with methyl acetimidate to determine the relative reactivity of surface lysine residues and to search for unreactive or "buried" amino groups which might contribute to stabilization of the native tetramers. Representative examples of the type-I and type-III variants of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase were found to have one lysine residue each in the native state which appears to be inaccessible to methyl acetimidate. The uniquely unreactive residue of the type-I protein is lysine-136, whereas the lysine that is "buried" in the type-III enzyme is provisonally assigned to residue 38 of the prototype sequence. It is suggested that the lysine residue in each case participates in the formation of an ion pair at the intersubunit interface and that the two amino groups in question occupy functionally equivalent positions in the quaternary structures of their respective enzyme variants. Lysine-136 of type-I enzyme is also uniquely unavailable for modification by citraconic anhydride, a reagent used to disrupt the quaternary structure of the native enzyme. Contrary to expectation, exhaustive citraconylation fails to dissociate the tetramer, but does destroy catalytic activity. Removal of citraconyl groups from modified chloramphenicol acetyltransferase is accompanied by a full region of catalytic activity. Analysis of the rate of hydrolysis of citraconyl groups from the modified tetramer by amidination of unblocked amino groups with methyl [14C]acetamidate reveals difference in lability for several of the ten modified lysine residues. Although the unique stability of the quaternary structure of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase may be due to strong hydrophobic interactions, it is argued that lysine-136 may contribute to stability via the formation of an ion pair at the subunit interface.

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Methyl acetimidate hydrochloride, technical grade
C3H7NO · HCl