S-Adenosylmethionine decarboxylase (AdoMetDC) is a pyruvoyl-dependent enzyme that is processed from a single polypeptide into two subunits creating the cofactor. In the human enzyme, both the proenzyme processing reaction and enzyme activity are stimulated by the polyamine putrescine. The processing reaction of Trypanosoma cruzi AdoMetDC was studied in an in vitro translation system. The enzyme was fully processed in the absence of putrescine, and the rate of this reaction was not stimulated by addition of the polyamine. Residues in the putrescine binding site of the human enzyme were evaluated for their role in processing of the T. cruzi enzyme. The E15A, I80K/S178E, D174A, and E256A mutant T. cruzi enzymes were fully processed. In contrast, mutation of R13 to Leu (the equivalent residue in the human enzyme) abolished processing of the T. cruzi enzyme, demonstrating that Arg at position 13 is a major determinant for proenzyme processing in the parasite enzyme. This amino acid change is a key structural difference that is likely to be a factor in the finding that putrescine has no role in processing of the T. cruzi enzyme. In contrast, the activity of T. cruzi AdoMetDC is stimulated by putrescine. Equilibrium sedimentation experiments demonstrated that putrescine does not alter the oligomeric state of the enzyme. The putrescine binding constant for binding to the T. cruzi enzyme (Kd = 150 μM) was measured by a fluorescence assay and by ultrafiltration with a radiolabeled ligand. The mutant T. cruzi enzyme D174V no longer binds putrescine, and is not activated by the diamine. In contrast, mutation of E15, S178, E256, and 180 had no effect on putrescine binding. The kcat/Km values for E15A and E256A mutants were stimulated by putrescine to a smaller extent than the wild-type enzyme (2- and 4-fold vs 11-fold, respectively). These data suggest that the putrescine binding site on the T. cruzi enzyme contains only limited elements (D174) in common with the human enzyme and that the diamine plays different roles in the function of the mammalian and parasite enzymes.
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