Evolution of pyruvate kinase in the long-term evolution experiment of Escherichia coli: A structure/function study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science (Hons)
This thesis examines Escherichia coli pyruvate kinase type 1 (PK1), a regulatory enzyme core to energy metabolism. Specifically, this thesis characterises a series of mutations in PK1 that were found when populations of E. coli were evolved in a glucose-limited environment for 20,000 generations. The gene pykF, which codes for the PK1 enzyme, was found to have developed nonsynonymous mutations in all replicate populations. Although the mutations at the nucleotide level were not the same (i.e. not parallel), it is not clear whether parallel adaptation exists at the protein structure/function level. This study aimed to address this question by investigating the kinetic and biophysical properties of the wild-type and seven mutant enzymes. The recombinant wild-type PK1 enzyme used in this study was found to have steady state kinetics consistent with those previously reported. Unlike the rabbit kidney PK enzyme, E. coli PK1 was shown to have a very tight tetrameric structure (picomolar range), which was not affected by the enzyme’s substrates (PEP and ADP), or the allosteric effector (FBP), as judged by analytical ultracentrifugation with fluorescence detection. The mutated residues were highly conserved, and found to fall loosely into three groups: those at the active site (P70T, P70Q and D127N); those at the subunit interface (I264F, A301T and A301S); and at the allosteric binding site (G381A). The seven mutated PK1 enzymes were obtained by mutagenesis followed by protein purification. Steady state kinetic analysis showed that the mutated enzymes displayed a variety of functional changes, suggesting that the populations had not evolved in a parallel manner at the enzyme structure/function level. Mutations within the active site (P70T, P70Q and D127N) all showed a decrease in catalytic potency. P70 is located at the hinge connecting the A and B domains, which forms the active site. PK1-P70Q showed strong cooperative binding to PEP, similar to the wild-type enzyme, in the absence of FBP, whereas PK1-P70T had little cooperativity, suggesting changes in the active site. PK1-D127N showed severely attenuated activity, suggesting, for the first time, that this residue is essential for catalysis. Mutations at the subunit interface (I264F, A301T and A301S) all showed altered allosteric regulation, suggesting that this interface is important in the FBP allosteric response. PK1-I264F, which had lower activity, but greater affinity for PEP, displayed a decreased α-helix content (as judged by CD), indicating that a subunit interface helix that includes this residue had altered. Despite still having a similar response to FBP, PK1-G381A showed an increased affinity for PEP, which, together with an increased α-helix content, suggests that this mutation had changed the structure of the FBP binding domain. None of the mutated enzymes showed altered quaternary structure. Although the populations evolved parallel changes with respect to cell physiology, fitness, and gene expression, this study suggests, for the first time, that the populations have not evolved in a parallel way with respect to protein structure and function.