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Glutamine amidotransferases, enzymes that transfer nitrogen from Gln to various cellular metabolites, are modular, with the amidotransferase (GATase) domain hydrolyzing Gln, generating ammonia and the acceptor domain catalyzing the addition of nitrogen onto its cognate substrate. GMP synthetase (GMPS), an enzyme in the de novo purine nucleotide biosynthetic pathway, is a glutamine amidotransferase that catalyzes the synthesis of GMP from XMP. The reaction involves activation of XMP though adenylation by ATP in the ATP pyrophosphatase (ATPPase) active site, followed by channeling and attack of NH3 generated in the GATase pocket. This complex chemistry entails co-ordination of activity across the active sites, allosteric activation of the GATase domain to modulate Gln hydrolysis and channeling of ammonia from the GATase to the acceptor active site. Functional GMPS dimers associate through the dimerization domain. The crystal structure of the Gln-bound complex of Plasmodium falciparum GMPS (PfGMPS) for the first time revealed large-scale domain rotation to be associated with catalysis and leading to the juxtaposition of two otherwise spatially distal cysteinyl (C113/C337) residues. In this manuscript, we report on an unusual structural variation in the crystal structure of the C89A/C113A PfGMPS double mutant, wherein a larger degree of domain rotation has led to the dissociation of the dimeric structure. Furthermore, we report a hitherto overlooked signature motif tightly related to catalysis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Molecular Microbiology and Structural Biochemistry, UMR5086 CNRS-University of Lyon1, 7 Passage du Vercors, CEDEX 07, F-69367 Lyon, France.


Nitrogen, Ammonia, Carbon-Nitrogen Ligases, Glutamine, Adenosine Triphosphate, Protein Conformation, Kinetics, Catalysis