GSTs (glutathione transferases) are multifunctional widespread enzymes. Currently there are 13 identified classes within this family. Previously most structural characterization has been reported for mammalian Alpha, Mu and Pi class GSTs. In the present study we characterize two enzymes from the insect-specific Delta class, adGSTD3-3 and adGSTD4-4. These two proteins are alternatively spliced products from the same gene and have very similar tertiary structures. Several major contributions to the dimer interface area can be separated into three regions: conserved electrostatic interactions in region 1, hydrophobic interactions in region 2 and an ionic network in region 3. The four amino acid side chains studied in region 1 interact with each other as a planar rectangle. These interactions are highly conserved among the GST classes, Delta, Sigma and Theta. The hydrophobic residues in region 2 are not only subunit interface residues but also active site residues. Overall these three regions provide important contributions to stabilization and folding of the protein. In addition, decreases in yield as well as catalytic activity changes, suggest that the mutations in these regions can disrupt the active site conformation which decreases binding affinity, alters kinetic constants and alters substrate specificity. Several of these residues have only a slight effect on the initial folding of each subunit but have more influence on the dimerization process as well as impacting upon appropriate active site conformation. The results also suggest that even splicing products from the same gene may have specific features in the subunit interface area that would preclude heterodimerization.

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