The requirements for stability and activity of the catalytic unit (C) of adenylate cyclase were investigated. After solubilization of bovine brain membranes in the zwitterionic detergent 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]propane-1-sulphonate (Chaps), the catalytic unit was separated from the stimulatory guanine-nucleotide-binding protein (Gs) by gel filtration on Ultrogel AcA-34. The partially purified C unit was rapidly inactivated at 30 degrees C; 0.25 mM-ATP stabilized activity. Although C-unit activity was dependent on Mg2+ or Mn2+, stabilization by ATP did not require bivalent cations. Activity of the Ultrogel-AcA-34-purified C unit was increased by Ca2+ plus calmodulin and by phosphatidylcholine plus lysophosphatidylcholine; activity in the presence of both activators was significantly greater than with each alone. Calmodulin plus Ca2+ and phospholipids also stabilized C unit. The column-purified C unit was activated by forskolin; the effect of forskolin was additive to those of calmodulin plus Ca2+ and phospholipids. p[NH]ppG-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity was reconstituted by mixing samples from the gel-filtration column containing Gs with C unit. Activation by Ca2+ plus calmodulin and Gs plus p[NH]ppG was additive; Ca2+ plus calmodulin did not alter the concentration of p[NH]ppG required for half-maximal activation. Results were similar with forskolin and Gs plus p[NH]ppG; the presence of one activator did not alter the effect of the other. These studies define conditions for separation of C unit and Gs from brain adenylate cyclase and demonstrate that ATP (in the absence of bivalent cations), phospholipids, calmodulin plus Ca2+, and forskolin all interact with C unit in a manner that is independent of functional Gs.

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