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Free Content Probing the active site of mitogillin, a fungal ribotoxin

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Fungal ribotoxins, such as mitogillin and the related Aspergillus toxins restrictocin and α-sarcin, are highly specific ribonucleases, which inactivate the ribosome enzymatically by cleaving the eukaryotic 28S RNA of the large ribosomal subunit at a single phosphodiester bond. The site of cleavage occurs between G4325 and A4326, which are present in a 14-base sequence (the α-sarcin loop) conserved among the large subunit rRNAs of all living species. The amino acid residues involved in the cytotoxic activities of mitogillin were investigated by introducing point mutations using hydroxylamine into a recombinant Met-mature mitogillin (mitogillin with a Met codon at the N-terminus and no leader sequence) gene constructed from an Aspergillus fumigatus cDNA clone. These constructs were cloned into a yeast expression vector under the control of the GAL1 promoter and transformed into Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Upon induction of mitogillin expression, surviving transformants revealed that substitutions of certain amino acid residues on mitogillin abolished its cytotoxicity. Non-toxic mutant genes were cloned into an Escherichia coli expression vector, the proteins overexpressed and purified to homogeneity and their activities examined by in vitro ribonucleolytic assays. These studies identified the His-49Tyr, Glu-95Lys, Arg-120Lys and His-136Tyr mutations to have a profound impact on the ribonucleolytic activities of mitogillin. We conclude that these residues are key components of the active site contributing to the catalytic activities of mitogillin.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of British Columbia, 6174 University Blvd., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada., 2: Department of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London, W12 ON, UK.

Publication date: August 1, 1998

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