The aminopeptidase from Aeromonas proteolytica (AAP) was titrated with copper, which bound sequentially at two distinct sites. Both the mono- and disubstituted forms of AAP exhibited catalytic hyperactivity relative to the native dizinc enzyme. Monosubstituted AAP exhibited an axial Cu(II) EPR spectrum with slight pH dependence: at pH 6.0 g|| = 2.249, g⊥ = 2.055, and A||(63/65Cu) = 1.77 × 10-2 cm-1, whereas at pH 9.65 g|| = 2.245, g⊥ = 2.056, and A||(63/65Cu) = 1.77 × 10-2 cm-1. These data indicate oxygen and nitrogen ligation of Cu. AAP further substituted with copper exhibited a complex signal with features around g ∼ 2 and 4. The features at g ∼ 4 were relatively weak in the B0 ⊥ B1 (perpendicular) mode EPR spectrum but were intense in the B0 || B1 (parallel) mode spectrum. The g ∼ 2 region of the perpendicular mode spectrum exhibited two components, one corresponding to mononuclear Cu(II) with g|| = 2.218, g⊥ = 2.023, and A||(63/65Cu) = 1.55 × 10-2 cm-1 and likely due to adventitious binding of Cu(II) to a site distant from the active site. Excellent simulations were obtained for the second component of the spectrum assuming that two Cu(II) ions experience dipolar coupling corresponding to an inter-copper distance of 5 Å with the two Cu(II) gz directions parallel to each other and at an angle of ∼17° to the inter-copper vector (ℋ = βB·gCuA·SCuA + βB·gCuB·SCuB + [S·A·I]CuA + [S·A·I]CuB + [SCuA·J·SCuB]; g||(CuA,CuB) = 2.218, g⊥(CuA,CuB) = 2.060; A||(CuA,CuB)(63/65Cu) = 1.59 × 10-2 cm-1, Jisotropic = 50 cm-1, rCu-Cu = 4.93 Å, and χ = 17°). The exchange coupling between the two copper ions was found to be ferromagnetic as the signals exhibited Curie law temperature dependence. The Cu−Cu distance of ∼5 Å indicated by EPR was significantly higher than the inter-zinc distance of 3.5 Å in the native enzyme, and the dicopper species therefore represents a novel dinuclear site capable of catalysis of hydrolysis. In contrast to AAP, the related methionyl aminopeptidase from Escherichia coli (EcMetAP) was found to bind only one Cu(II) ion despite possessing a dinuclear binding site motif. A further difference was the marked pH dependence of the signal in EcMetAP, suggestive of a change in ligation. The structural motifs of these two Cu(II)-substituted aminopeptidases provide important insight into the observed catalytic activity.
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