Cucurbitacin delta 23-reductase from Cucurbita maxima var. Green Hubbard fruit displays an apparent Mr of 32,000, a Stokes radius of 263 nm and a diffusion coefficient of 8.93 × 10(-7) cm2 × s-1. The enzyme appears to possess a homogeneous dimeric quaternary structure with a subunit Mr of 15,000. Two tryptophan and fourteen tyrosine residues per dimer were found. Emission spectral properties of the enzyme and fluorescence quenching by iodide indicate the tryptophan residues to be buried within the protein molecule. In the pH range 5-7, where no conformational changes were detected, protonation of a sterically related ionizable group with a pK of approx. 6.0 markedly influenced the fluorescence of the tryptophan residues. Protein fluorescence quenching was employed to determine the dissociation constants for binding of NADPH (Kd 17 microM), NADP+ (Kd 30 microM) and elaterinide (Kd 227 microM). Fluorescence energy transfer between the tryptophan residues and enzyme-bound NADPH was observed.

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