Wild-type flavocytochrome b2 (L-lactate dehydrogenase) from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and three singly substituted mutant forms (F254, R349 and K376) have been expressed in the bacterium Escherichia coli. The enzyme expressed in E. coli contains the protohaem IX and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) prosthetic groups found in the enzyme isolated from yeast, has an electronic absorption spectrum identical with that of the yeast protein and an identical Mr value of 57,500 estimated by SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis. N-Terminal amino-acid-sequence data indicate that the flavocytochrome b2 isolated from E. coli begins at position 6 (methionine) when compared with mature flavocytochrome b2 from yeast. The absence of the first five amino acid residues appears to have no effect on the enzyme-catalysed oxidation of L-lactate, since Km values for the yeast- and E. coli-expressed wild-type enzymes were identical within experimental error. The F254 mutant enzyme expressed in E. coli also showed kinetic parameters essentially the same as those found for the enzyme from yeast. The R349 and K376 mutant enzymes had no activity when expressed in either yeast or E. coli. The yield of flavocytochrome b2 from E. coli is estimated to be between 500- and 1000-fold more than from a similar wet weight of yeast (this high level of expression results in E. coli cells which are pink in colour). The increased yield has allowed us to verify the presence of FMN in the R349 mutant enzyme. The advantages of E. coli as an expression system for flavocytochrome b2 are discussed.

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