Subunit interactions in aspartate transcarbamylase. A model for the allosteric mechanism.
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The conformational changes in aspartate transcarbamylase upon binding of substrates or regulatory ligands and the effects of alterations in the subunit structure on the allosteric interactions are reviewed. The available information including recent results from studies of the c3r6 complex (c denotes the catalytic polypeptide and r, the regulatory polypeptide) is considered in terms of the existing models for the discrepancies between experimental observations and the present models could be resolved by postulating an important role for r:r interactions in the allosteric mechanism. A new model is presented in which an obligatory conformational change upon binding of substrates results in an alteration in the relative orientation of c versus r. As a consequence of symmetry conservation, the r:r domain is shifted to a position of higher potential energy. By favoring one or the other alternative r:r domains, CTP and ATP can respectively enhance and reduce the sigmoidal character of substrate saturation. The model is shown to be consistent with all of the important known properties of the enzyme. Because the heterotropic effects of CTP or ATP are postulated to operate via a mechanism separate from that for the homotropic effects of the substrates, this model accounts satisfactorily for the observation by Kerbiriou and Herve (Kerbiriou, D., and Herve, G. (1973) J. Mol. Biol. 78, 687-702) that homotropic effects can be abolished whereas heterotropic effects are retained in the altered enzyme from Escherichia coli grown in the presence of 2-thiouracil.
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