Indexed on: 02 Feb '99Published on: 02 Feb '99Published in: Journal of Molecular Biology
The UmuD-like proteins are best characterized for their role in damage-induced SOS mutagenesis. An essential step in this process is the enzymatic self-processing of the UmuD-like proteins. This reaction is thought to occur either via an intramolecular or intermolecular self-cleavage mechanism. Here, we demonstrate that it can also occur via an heterologous intermolecular cleavage reaction. The Escherichia coli UmuD enzyme demonstrated the broadest substrate specificity, cleaving both E. coli and Salmonella typhimurium UmuD substrates in vivo. In comparison, the wild-type S. typhimurium UmuD (UmuDSt) and MucA enzymes catalyzed intermolecular self-cleavage, but did not facilitate heterologous cleavage. Heterologous cleavage by the UmuDSt enzyme was, however, observed with chimeric UmuD substrates that possess residues 30-55 of UmuDSt. We have further localized the residue predominantly responsible for UmuDSt-catalyzed heterologous cleavage to Ser50 in the substrate molecule. We hypothesize that changes at this residue affect the positioning of the cleavage site of a substrate molecule within the catalytic cleft of the UmuDSt enzyme by affecting the formation of a so-called UmuD "filament-dimer". This hypothesis is further supported by the observation that mutations known to disrupt an E. coli UmuD' filament dimer also block intermolecular UmuDEc cleavage.