The α-1,4-D-glucan phosphorylase from gram-positive Corynebacterium callunae has been isolated and characterized. The enzyme is inducible approx. 2-fold by maltose, but remarkably not repressed by D-glucose. The phosphorylase is a homodimer with a stoichiometric content of the cofactor pyridoxal 5′-phosphate per 88-kDa protein subunit. The specificity constants (kcat/Km,glucan) in the directions of glucan synthesis and degradation are used for the classification of the enzyme as the first bacterial starch phosphorylase. A preference for large over small substrates is determined by variations in the apparent binding constants rather than catalytic-centre activities. The contribution of substrate chain length to binding energy is explained assuming two glucan binding sites in C. callunae phosphorylase: an oligosaccharide binding site composed of five subsites and a high-affinity polysaccharide site separated from the active site. A structural model of the molecular shape of the phosphorylase was obtained from small-angle solution X-ray scattering measurements. A flat, slightly elongated, ellipsoidal model with the three axes related to each other as 1:(0.87–0.95):0.43 showed scattering equivalence with the enzyme molecule. The model of C. callunae phosphorylase differs from the structurally well-characterized rabbit-muscle phosphorylase in size and axial dimensions.

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