Nickel-dependent oligomerization of the alpha subunit of acetyl-coenzyme a synthase/carbon monoxide dehydrogenase.
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After activation with NiCl2, the recombinant alpha subunit of the Ni-containing alpha2beta2 acetyl-CoA synthase/carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (ACS/CODH) catalyzes the synthesis of acetyl-CoA from CO, CoA, and a methyl group donated from the corrinoid-iron-sulfur protein (CoFeSP). The alpha subunit has two conformations (open and closed), and contains a novel [Fe4S4]-[Nip Nid] active site in which the proximal Nip ion is labile. Prior to Ni activation, recombinant apo-alpha contain only an Fe4S4 cluster. Ni-activated alpha subunits exhibit catalytic, spectroscopic and heterogeneity properties typical of alpha subunits contained in ACS/CODH. Evidence presented here indicates that apo-alpha is a monomer whereas Ni-treated alpha oligomerizes, forming dimers and higher molecular weight species including tetramers. No oligomerization occurred when apo-alpha was treated with Cu(II), Zn(II), or Co(II) ions, but oligomerization occurred when apo-alpha was treated with Pt(II) and Pd(II) ions. The dimer accepted only 0.5 methyl group/alpha and exhibited, upon treatment with CO and under reducing conditions, the NiFeC EPR signal quantifying to 0.4 spin/alpha. Dimers appear to consist of two types of alpha subunits, including one responsible for catalytic activity and one that provides a structural scaffold. Higher molecular weight species may be similarly constituted. It is concluded that Ni binding to the A-cluster induces a conformational change in the alpha subunit, possibly to the open conformation, that promotes oligomerization. These interrelated events demonstrate previously unrealized connections between (a) the conformation of the alpha subunit; (b) the metal which occupies the proximal/distal sites of the A-cluster; and (c) catalytic activity.