L-phenylalanine binding and domain organization in human phenylalanine hydroxylase: a differential scanning calorimetry study.

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Thorolfsson M, Ibarra-Molero B, Fojan P, Petersen SB, Sanchez-Ruiz JM, Martinez A

L-phenylalanine binding and domain organization in human phenylalanine hydroxylase: a differential scanning calorimetry study.

Biochemistry. 2002 Jun 18;41(24):7573-85.

PubMed ID
12056888 [ View in PubMed

Human phenylalanine hydroxylase (hPAH) is a tetrameric enzyme that catalyzes the hydroxylation of L-phenylalanine (L-Phe) to L-tyrosine; a dysfunction of this enzyme causes phenylketonuria. Each subunit in hPAH contains an N-terminal regulatory domain (Ser2-Ser110), a catalytic domain (Asp112-Arg410), and an oligomerization domain (Ser411-Lys452) including dimerization and tetramerization motifs. Two partially overlapping transitions are seen in differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) thermograms for wild-type hPAH in 0.1 M Na-Hepes buffer, 0.1 M NaCl, pH 7.0. Although these transitions are irreversible, studies on their scan-rate dependence support that the equilibrium thermodynamics analysis is permissible in this case. Comparison with the DSC thermograms for truncated forms of the enzyme, studies on the protein and L-Phe concentration effects on the transitions, and structure-energetic calculations based on a modeled structure support that the thermal denaturation of hPAH occurs in three stages: (i) unfolding of the four regulatory domains, which is responsible for the low-temperature calorimetric transition; (ii) unfolding of two (out of the four) catalytic domains, which is responsible for the high-temperature transition; and (iii) irreversible protein denaturation, which is likely responsible for the observed exothermic distortion in the high-temperature side of the high-temperature transition. Stages 1 and 2 do not appear to be two-state processes. We present an approach to the analysis of ligand effects on DSC transition temperatures, which is based on the general binding polynomial formalism and is not restricted to two-state transitions. Application of this approach to the L-Phe effect on the DSC thermograms for hPAH suggests that (i) there are no binding sites for L-Phe in the regulatory domains; therefore, contrary to the common belief, the activation of PAH by L-Phe seems to be the result of its homotropic cooperative binding to the active sites. (ii) The regulatory domain appears to be involved in cooperativity through its interactions with the catalytic and oligomerization domains; thus, upon regulatory domain unfolding, the cooperativity in the binding of L-Phe to the catalytic domains seems to be lost and the value of the L-Phe concentration corresponding to half-saturation is increased. Overall, our results contribute to the understanding of the conformational stability and the substrate-induced cooperative activation of this important enzyme.

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