Crystal structures of guinea-pig, goat and bovine α-lactalbumin highlight the enhanced conformational flexibility of regions that are significant for its action in lactose synthase

Ashley C.W. Pike, Keith Brew, K. Ravi Acharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The regulation of milk lactose biosynthesis is highly dependent on the action of a specifier protein, α-lactalbumin (LA). Together with a glycosyltransferase, LA forms the enzyme complex lactose synthase. LA promotes the binding of glucose to the complex and facilitates the biosynthesis of lactose. To gain further insight into the molecular basis of LA funcion in lactose synthase we have determined the structures of three species variants of LA. Results: The crystal structures of guinea-pig, goat and a recombinant form of bovine LA have been determined using molecular replacement techniques. Overall, the structures are very similar and reflect their high degree of amino acid sequence identity (66-94%). Nonetheless, the structures show that a portion of the molecule (residues 105-110), known to be important for function, exhibits a variety of distinct conformers. This region lies adjacent to two residues (Phe31 and His32) that have been implicated in monosaccharide binding by lactose synthase and its conformation has significant effects on the enviroments of these functional groups. The crystal structures also demonstrate that residues currently implicated in LA's modulatory properties are located in a region of the struture that has relatively high thermal parameters and is therefore probably flexible in vivo. Conclusions: LA's proposed interaction site for the catalytic component of the lactose synthase complex is primarily located in the flexible C-terminal portion of the molecule. This general observation implies that conformational adjustments may be important for the formation and function of lactose synthase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-703
Number of pages13
JournalStructure
Volume4
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

Keywords

  • Conformational flexibility
  • Galactosyltransferase
  • Lactose synthase
  • X-ray crystallography
  • α-lactalbumin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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