Farrugia, Mark A.; Wang, Beibei; Feig, Michael; Hausinger, Robert P.
Mutational and Computational Evidence That a Nickel-Transfer Tunnel in UreD Is Used for Activation of Klebsiella aerogenes Urease
BIOCHEMISTRY, 54:6392-6401, OCT 20 2015

Nickel-containing urease from Klebsiella aerogenes requires four accessory proteins for proper active site metalation. The metallochaperone UreE delivers nickel to UreG, a GTPase that forms a UreD/UreF/UreG complex, which binds to urease apoprotein via UreD. Prior in silico analysis of the homologous, structurally characterized UreH/UreF/UreG complex from Helicobacter pylori identified a water tunnel originating at a likely nickel-binding motif in UreG, passing through UreF, and exiting UreH, suggestive of a role for the channel in providing the metal to urease apoprotein for its activation; however, no experimental support was reported for the significance of this tunnel. Here, specific variants were designed to disrupt a comparable 34.6 angstrom predicted internal tunnel, alternative channels, and surface sites for UreD. Cells producing a set of tunnel-disrupting variants of UreD exhibited greatly reduced urease specific activities, whereas other mutants had no appreciable effect on activity. Affinity pull-down studies of cell-free extracts from tunnel-disrupting mutant cultures showed no loss of UreD interactions with urease or UreF/UreG. The nickel contents of urease samples enriched from activity-deficient cultures were decreased, while zinc and iron incorporation increased. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed size restrictions in the internal channels of the UreD variants. These findings support the role of a molecular tunnel in UreD as a direct facilitator of nickel transfer into urease, illustrating a new paradigm in active site metallo center assembly.


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