The fatty acid β-oxidation multienzyme complex from Pseudomonas fragi, HDT, exhibits predominantly the three enzymic activities of 2-enoyl-CoA hydratase (EC 4.2.1.17), 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase (EC 1.1.1.35) and 3-oxoacyl-CoA thiolase (EC 2.3.1.16). The HDT complex is encoded by the faoAB operon, consisting of the faoA and faoB genes that encode two individual constituents, the α-subunit and the β-subunit. We have constructed Escherichia coli overexpression systems for the faoAB gene product (coexpression of the α- and β-subunits), the α-subunit alone and the β-subunit alone, and have purified the three respective products. Gel-filtration analysis revealed that the faoAB gene product forms a heterotetrameric structure, α2β2, identical with the native HDT oligomeric state from P. fragi, whereas the α-subunit and β-subunit individually form dimers. Electron microscopy demonstrated that each protein morphologically adopts the above oligomeric structures. The HDT complex, reconstituted in vitro from the isolated α- and β-subunits, exhibits the three original enzymic activities and yields the same crystal as those from the native enzyme. CD measurements indicated that the α- and β-dimers hardly alter their global conformations upon the formation of the HDT complex. Interestingly, the β-dimer alone does not exhibit 3-oxoacyl-CoA thiolase activity, whereas the α-dimer alone exhibits both the 2-enoyl-CoA hydratase and 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activities. These results suggest that the contact between the α- and β-subunits is essential for the thiolase activity. We have identified several structurally important proteolytic sites within each subunit, which are protected in the intact heterotetrameric molecule. These findings allow the possible location of the interface between the two subunits, which should be crucial for the exhibition of thiolase activity.

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