Identification of an iron-sulfur cluster that modulates the enzymatic activity in NarE, a Neisseria meningitidis ADP-ribosyltransferase

Author(s): Del Vecchio M,Pogni R, Baratto MC, Nobbs A, Rappuoli R, et al.


In prokaryotes, mono-ADP-ribose transfer enzymes represent a family of exotoxins that display activity in a variety of bacterial pathogens responsible for causing disease in plants and animals, including those affecting mankind, such as diphtheria, cholera, and whooping cough. We report here that NarE, a putative ADP-ribosylating toxin previously identified from Neisseria meningitidis, which shares structural homologies with Escherichia coli heat labile enterotoxin and toxin from Vibrio cholerae, possesses an iron-sulfur center. The recombinant protein was expressed in E. coli, and when purified at high concentration, NarE is a distinctive golden brown in color. Evidence from UV-visible spectrophotometry and EPR spectroscopy revealed characteristics consistent of an iron-binding protein. The presence of iron was determined by colorimetric method and by an atomic absorption spectrophotometer. To identify the amino acids involved in binding iron, a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and UV-visible and enzymatic assays were performed. All four cysteine residues were individually replaced by serine. Substitution of Cys(67) and Cys(128) into serine caused a drastic reduction in the E(420)/E(280) ratio, suggesting that these two residues are essential for the formation of a stable coordination. This modification led to a consistent loss in ADP-ribosyltransferase activity, while decrease in NAD-glycohydrolase activity was less dramatic in these mutants, indicating that the correct assembly of the iron-binding site is essential for transferase but not hydrolase activity. This is the first observation suggesting that a member of the ADP-ribosyltransferase family contains an Fe-S cluster implicated in catalysis. This observation may unravel novel functions exerted by this class of enzymes.

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