Methanol dehydrogenase (MDH) from Methylobacterium extorquens, Methylophilus methylotrophus, Paracoccus denitrificans and Hyphomicrobium X all contained a single atom of Ca2+ per alpha 2 beta 2 tetramer. The role of Ca2+ was investigated using the MDH from Methylobacterium extorquens. This was shown to be similar to the MDH from Hyphomicrobium X in having 2 mol of prosthetic group (pyrroloquinoline quinine; PQQ) per mol of tetramer, the PQQ being predominantly in the semiquinone form. MDH isolated from the methanol oxidation mutants MoxA-, K- and L- contained no Ca2+. They were identical with the enzyme isolated from wild-type bacteria with respect to molecular size, subunit configuration, pI, N-terminal amino acid sequence and stability under denaturing conditions (low pH, high urea and high guanidinium chloride) and in the nature and content of the prosthetic group (2 mol of PQQ per mol of MDH). They differed in their lack of Ca2+, the oxidation state of the extracted PQQ (fully oxidized), absence of the semiquinone form of PQQ in the enzyme, reactivity with the suicide inhibitor cyclopropanol and absorption spectrum, which indicated that PQQ is bound differently from that in normal MDH. Incubation of MDH from the mutants in calcium salts led to irreversible time-dependent reconstitution of full activity concomitant with restoration of a spectrum corresponding to that of fully reduced normal MDH. It is concluded that Ca2+ in MDH is directly or indirectly involved in binding PQQ in the active site. The MoxA, K and L proteins may be involved in maintaining a high Ca2+ concentration in the periplasm. It is more likely, however, that they fill a ‘chaperone’ function, stabilizing a configuration of MDH which permits incorporation of low concentrations of Ca2+ into the protein.

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