Genetic construction of truncated and chimeric metalloproteins derived from the alpha subunit of acetyl-CoA synthase from Clostridium thermoaceticum.
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In this study, a genetics-based method is used to truncate acetyl-coenzyme A synthase from Clostridium thermoaceticum (ACS), an alpha(2)beta(2) tetrameric 310 kDa bifunctional enzyme. ACS catalyzes the reversible reduction of CO(2) to CO and the synthesis of acetyl-CoA from CO (or CO(2) in the presence of low-potential reductants), CoA, and a methyl group bound to a corrinoid-iron sulfur protein (CoFeSP). ACS contains seven metal-sulfur clusters of four different types called A, B, C, and D. The B, C, and D clusters are located in the 72 kDa beta subunit, while the A-cluster, a Ni-X-Fe(4)S(4) cluster that serves as the active site for acetyl-CoA synthase activity, is located in the 82 kDa alpha subunit. The extent to which the essential properties of the cluster, including catalytic, redox, spectroscopic, and substrate-binding properties, were retained as ACS was progressively truncated was determined. Acetyl-CoA synthase catalytic activity remained when the entire beta subunit was removed, as long as CO, rather than CO(2) and a low-potential reductant, was used as a substrate. Truncating an approximately 30 kDa region from the N-terminus of the alpha subunit yielded a 49 kDa protein that lacked catalytic activity but exhibited A-cluster-like spectroscopic, redox, and CO-binding properties. Further truncation afforded a 23 kDa protein that lacked recognizable A-cluster properties except for UV-vis spectra typical of [Fe(4)S(4)](2+) clusters. Two chimeric proteins were constructed by fusing the gene encoding a ferredoxin from Chromatium vinosum to genes encoding the 49 and 82 kDa fragments of the alpha subunit. The chimeric proteins exhibited EPR signals that were not the simple sum of the signals from the separate proteins, suggesting magnetic interactions between clusters. This study highlights the potential for using genetics to simplify the study of complex multicentered metalloenzymes and to generate new complex metalloenzymes with interesting properties.