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The capacity of the malate-aspartate shuttle was evaluated in periportal (PP-H) and perivenous subfraction of rat hepatocytes (PV-H). The rate of glutamine production from alanine was 34-fold higher in PV-H than in PP-H. Statistically significant differences between PP-H and PV-H were found for the activities of lactate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase but not for the activities of NAD(+)-malate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, and mitochondrial alanine aminotransferase. The rate of glucose production from sorbitol and the rate of ethanol utilization were higher in PP-H than in PV-H. In the presence of phenazine methosulfate (PMS), the increments in these rates were significantly greater in PV-H than in PP-H. The capacity of malate-aspartate shuttle in the presence of alanine was significantly higher in PP-H than in PV-H but in the presence of asparagine was similar in PP-H and PV-H. The results suggest that the capacity of malate-aspartate shuttle distributes heterogeneously along liver lobules with the dominance in periportal zone and that the difference of the capacity may result from the difference in the transport of aspartate across the mitochondrial membrane.
Determinations of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) and N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate (NAAG) levels were obtained by ion-exchange HPLC from 10 regions of the male dystrophic mouse brain as well as from those of non-dystrophic littermate controls. Similar to previous studies in the rat, NAA levels in control mice were distributed rather uniformly while NAAG levels exhibited a pronounced rostrocaudal gradient, with highest levels found in the lumbar spinal cord. Contrary to a recent report, we found no significant alterations in gross brain or spinal cord levels of NAA. In contrast, levels of NAAG were substantially and differentially reduced in several regions of the dystrophic mouse nervous system. These results demonstrate a pathological dissociation between NAA and NAAG, whose levels are known to display differential regional, ontogenetic and phylogenetic patterns. In addition, they may represent an ability of neural tissue to differentially regulate their steady-state levels, if indeed they can be shown to be biosynthetically related. The pronounced and non-uniform NAAG reductions observed in the dystrophic CNS underscores recent suggestions of a role for the neuropeptide in central systems involved in the control of motor function.
HPLC analysis of rat spinal cord revealed a uniform distribution of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) across both longitudinal and dorsoventral axes. In contrast, ventral cord N-acetyl-aspartylglutamate (NAAG) levels were significantly higher than those measured in dorsal halves of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar segments. Immunocytochemical studies using an affinity-purified antiserum raised against NAAG-bovine serum albumin revealed an intense staining of motoneurons within rat spinal cord. Along with the considerable NAAG content in ventral roots, these results suggest that NAAG may be concentrated in motoneurons and play a role in motor pathways. NAAG was also present in other peripheral neural tissues, including dorsal roots, dorsal root ganglia, superior cervical ganglia, and sciatic nerve. It is interesting that NAA levels in peripheral nervous tissues were lower than those in CNS structures and that NAA levels in ventral roots and sciatic nerve were lower than NAAG levels. These findings further document a lack of correlation between NAAG and NAA levels in both central and peripheral nervous tissues. Taken together, these data demonstrate the presence of NAAG in nonglutamatergic neuronal systems and suggest a more complex role of NAAG in neuronal physiology than previously postulated.
Although intensive investigations have been conducted on the allosteric enzyme, aspartate transcarbamoylase, which catalyzes the first committed reaction in the biosynthesis of pyrimidines in Escherichia coli, little is known about the role of individual amino acid residues in catalysis or regulation. Two inactive enzymes produced by random mutagenesis have been characterized previously but the loss of activity is probably attributable to changes in the folding of the chains stemming from the introduction of charged and bulky residues (Asp for Gly-128 and Phe for Ser-52). Site-directed mutagenesis of pyrB, which encodes the catalytic chains of the enzyme, was used to probe the functional roles of several amino acids by making more conservative substitutions. Replacement of Lys-84 by either Gln or Arg leads to virtually inactive enzymes, confirming chemical studies indicating that Lys-84 is essential for catalysis. In contrast, substitution of Gln for Lys-83 has only a slight effect on enzyme activity, whereas chemical modification causes considerable inactivation. Gln-133, which has been shown by x-ray crystallography to reside near the contact region between the catalytic and regulatory chains, was replaced by Ala. This substitution has little effect on catalytic activity but leads to a marked increase in cooperativity. The Gln-83 mutant, in contrast, exhibits much less cooperativity. Since a histidine residue may be involved in catalysis and His-134 has been shown by x-ray diffraction studies to be in close proximity to the site of binding of a bisubstrate analog, His-134 was replaced by Ala, yielding a mutant with only 5% wild-type activity, considerable cooperativity, and lower affinity for aspartate and carbamoylphosphate. All of the mutants, unlike those in which charged or bulky residues replaced small side chains, bind the bisubstrate analog, which promotes the characteristic "swelling" of the enzymes indicative of the allosteric transition.
The role of Ca2+ in stimulation of the malate-aspartate shuttle by norepinephrine and vasopressin was studied in perfused rat liver. Shuttle capacity was indexed by measuring the changes in both the rate of production of glucose from sorbitol and the ratio of lactate to pyruvate during the oxidation of ethanol. (T. Sugano et al. (1986) Amer. J. Physiol. 251, E385-E392). Asparagine (0.5 mM), but not alanine (0.5 mM) decreased the ethanol-induced responses. Norepinephrine and vasopressin had no effect on the ethanol-induced responses when the liver was perfused with sorbitol or glycerol. In the presence of 0.25 mM alanine, norepinephrine, vasopressin, and A23187 decreased the ethanol-induced responses that occurred with the increase of flux of Ca2+. In liver perfused with Ca2+-free medium, asparagine also decreased the ethanol-induced responses, but norepinephrine and vasopressin had no effect. Aminooxyacetate inhibited the effects of norepinephrine, A23187, and asparagine. Regardless of the presence or absence of perfusate Ca2+, the combination of glucagon and alanine had no effect on the ethanol-induced responses. Norepinephrine caused a decrease in levels of alpha-ketoglutarate, aspartate, and glutamate in hepatocytes incubated with Ca2+. The present data suggest that the redistribution of cellular Ca2+ may activate the efflux of aspartate from mitochondria in rat liver, resulting in an increase in the capacity of the malate-aspartate shuttle.
Preparations of recombinant bovine calbindin D9k (r-calbindin) that appear homogeneous on SDS electrophoresis gels have been shown by isoelectric focusing to be mixtures of proteins differing in net charge. The production of two isoforms with increased negative charge occurs during a routine urea denaturation step and can be effectively suppressed by replacing this procedure with thermal denaturation. The two isoforms have been separated from the native protein by DEAE-Sephacel ion-exchange chromatography. Amino acid sequencing of tryptic peptide fragments and two-dimensional (2D) 1H NMR studies establish that the isoforms correspond to calbindin D9k deamidated at Asn56 and that the major product has an isoaspartate (beta-linked peptide) residue at this position. The minor deamidated component is found to have a normal Asp-Gly alpha-linkage. A detailed analysis of proton chemical shifts, phi backbone dihedral angles, and nuclear Overhauser effects indicates that the global conformation of r-calbindin is not perturbed upon deamidation and that all elements of secondary structure are intact. The Asp56 form is nearly identical with the intact protein, whereas the structure of the iso-Asp56 form is perturbed, predominantly in the polypeptide segment Lys55-Asp58. These studies demonstrate that 2D 1H NMR techniques can be used to identify and quantitate the two isoforms produced upon deamidation of a protein and to assess changes in the local and global conformation.
Site-directed mutagenesis was used to determine how the allosteric properties of aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATCase) are affected by amino acid replacements in the nucleotide binding region of the regulatory polypeptide chains. Amino acid substitutions were made for both Lys-60 and Lys-94 in the regulatory chain since those residues have been implicated by x-ray diffraction studies, chemical modification experiments, and site-directed mutagenesis as playing a role in binding CTP and ATP. Lys-60 was replaced by His, Arg, Gln, and Ala, and Lys-94 was changed to His. These mutant forms of ATCase exhibit bewildering changes in the allosteric properties compared to the wild-type enzyme as well as altered affinities for the nucleotide effectors. The enzyme containing His-60 lacks both homotropic and heterotropic effects and exhibits no detectable binding of nucleotides. In contrast, the holoenzymes containing either Gln-60 or Arg-60 retain both homotropic and heterotropic effects. Replacement of Lys-60 by Ala yields a derivative exhibiting altered heterotropic effects involving insensitivity to CTP and activation by ATP. The mutant enzyme containing His-94 in place of Lys exhibits cooperativity with reduced affinity for nucleotides. The multiple substitutions at Lys-60 in the nucleotide binding region of the regulatory chains of ATCase demonstrate that different amino acids in the same location can alter indirectly the delicate balance of interactions responsible for the allosteric properties of ATCase. The studies show that it is hazardous and frequently unwarranted from single amino acid replacements of a specific residue to attribute to that residue the properties observed for the wild-type enzyme.
Recent studies have revealed that the sequence of amino acids asp-gly-glu-ala represents an essential determinant of the site within the alpha 1(I)-CB3 fragment of collagen recognized by the alpha 2 beta 1 integrin cell surface collagen receptor (Staatz et al., 1991). Studies employing chemical modifications of collagen amino acid side chains confirm both the essential nature of the acidic side chains of aspartic acid and glutamic acid residues and the nonessentiality of lysine epsilon-amino groups in supporting adhesion mediated by the alpha 2 beta 1 integrin. The approach also indicates the presence of a distinct determinant on collagen separate from the alpha 2 beta 1 recognition site that contains essential lysine side chains and that is necessary for subsequent interactions with the platelet surface that give rise to collagen-induced platelet activation and secretion. The two-step, two-site model for cellular signaling involving both an integrin and a signal-transducing coreceptor suggested by these data may be common to other integrin-mediated processes.