Glutamate-1-semialdehyde aminomutase (GSAM) is a dimeric, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP)- dependent enzyme catalysing in plants and some bacteria the isomerization of L-glutamate-1-semialdehyde to 5-aminolevulinate, a common precursor of chlorophyll, haem, coenzyme B12, and other tetrapyrrolic compounds. During the catalytic cycle, the coenzyme undergoes conversion from pyridoxamine 5'-phosphate (PMP) to PLP.The entrance of the catalytic site is protected by a loop that is believed to switch froman open to a closed conformation during catalysis. Crystallographic studies indicated that the structure of themobile loop is related to the form of the cofactor bound to the active site, allowing for asymmetry within the dimer. Since no information on structural and functional asymmetry of the enzyme in solution is available in the literature, we investigated the active site accessibility by determining the cofactor fluorescence quenching of PMP- and PLP-GSAM forms. PLP-GSAM is partially quenched by potassium iodide, suggesting that at least one catalytic site is accessible to the anionic quencher and therefore confirming the asymmetry observed in the crystal structure. Iodide induces release of the cofactor from PMP-GSAM, apparently from only one catalytic site, therefore suggesting an asymmetry also in this form of the enzyme in solution, in contrast with the crystallographic data.
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