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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structural studies of wild-type and variant yeast iso-1-cytochromes c Louie, Gordon, V.


The crystal structure of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) iso-1- cytochrome c has been determined through molecular replacement techniques, and refined against X-ray diffraction data in the resolution range 6.0-1.23 Å to a crystallographic R-factor of 0.192. The yeast iso-1-cytochrome c molecule has the typical cytochrome c fold, with the polypeptide chain organized into five α-helices and a series of loops which serve to enclose almost completely the heme prosthetic group within a hydrophobic pocket Comparison of the structures of yeast iso-1-, tuna and rice cytochromes c shows that the polypeptide backbone fold, intramolecular hydrogen bonding, conformation of side chains and particularly packing within the heme crevice of protein groups against the heme moiety are very similar in the three proteins. Significant structural differences among the three cytochromes c can be explained by differences in amino acid sequence. X-ray crystallographic techniques have also been used to study the effect of single-site amino acid substitutions at Phe82 and at Arg38 in iso-1-cytochrome c. The structures of the various variant iso-1-cytochromes c have been determined at nominal resolutions in the range 2.8 to 1.76 Å. Conspicuous structural perturbations in the neighborhood of the substituted side chain are evident in all of the variant proteins. In wild-type iso-1-cytochrome c, the phenyl ring of Phe82 is positioned adjacent and approximately parallel to the heme group, and occupies a non-polar cavity within the heme crevice. In the Ser82 variant, a channel extending from the surface of the molecule down into the heme crevice is created. In the Gly82 variant, the polypeptide backbone has refolded into the space formerly occupied by the phenyl ring of Phe82. Steric conflicts prevent both the phenolic ring of Tyr82 and the side chain of Ile82 from being completely accommodated within the pocket normally occupied by a phenyl ring. Substitution of alanine at position 38 causes a slight reorganization of the hydrogen bonding network in which Arg38 normally participates, and also exposes to external solvent a normally buried propionic acid group of the heme. The altered functional properties of the position 82 variant proteins have been interpreted with respect to the observed structural perturbations. The drop in reduction potential, most notably for the Ser82 and Gly82 variants, can be explained by the elevated heme environment polarity arising from the increased access of solvent or polar protein groups to the heme pocket The reduced stability of the heme crevice, as indicated by lowered pKa's for alkaline isomerization, is likely due to the disruption of stabilizing packing forces formed by the Phe82 phenyl ring within its hydrophobic cavity. The lowered activity, in comparison to the wild-type protein and the Tyr82 variant, for electron transfer with Zn+-cytochrome c peroxidase is attributed to the loss of an aromatic group positioned adjacent to the heme group. The altered surface topography of the variant proteins (particularly the Gly82, Tyr82 and Ile82 variants) may further hinder productive complex formation between cytochrome c and its redox partners. These results suggest that the invariant Phe82 contributes in at least three ways to the proper functioning of cytochrome c. It has an important structural role in maintaining the integrity of the heme crevice and in establishing the appropriate heme environment The phenyl ring of Phe82 may also be required for efficient movement of an electron to and from the heme of cytochrome c. Finally, Phe82 may have a role in forming intermolecular interactions with enzymic redox partners of cytochrome c.

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