The AROM protein of Aspergillus nidulans is a multidomain pentafunctional polypeptide that is active as a dimer and catalyses steps 2-6 in the prechorismate section of the shikimate pathway. The three C-terminal domains (including the type I 3-dehydroquinase) of the AROM protein are homologous with the qutR-encoded QUTR protein that represses transcription of the eight genes comprising the quinic acid utilization (qut) gene cluster, and the two N-terminal domains are homologous with the qutA-encoded QUTA protein that transcribes the qut genes. As part of a larger research programme designed to compare the structures of the three proteins and to probe the domain structure and interaction within each protein, we have overproduced and purified the 3-dehydroquinase domain of the AROM protein. Additionally we have overproduced and purified the qutB-encoded quinate dehydrogenase and overproduced the qa-2 encoded type II 3-dehydroquinase of Neurospora crassa. We report that the AROM 3-dehydroquinase domain has a monomeric native state, with an apparent kcat./Km ratio that is approx. 160-fold lower than the value for the native N. crassa AROM protein. The AROM protein 3-dehydroquinase domain is sensitive to inactivation by borohydride in the presence of the substrate 3-dehydroquinate, confirming that it is a typical type I 3-dehydroquinase. The purified quinate dehydrogenase is bifunctional, being able to metabolize shikimate as a substrate. The apparent Km values for quinate (450 microM), shikimate (1.7 mM) and NAD+ (150 microM) are all similar to values reported for the qa-3-encoded enzyme from N. crassa.

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