Characterization of PspE, a Secreted Sulfurtransferase of Escherichia coli
PspE, encoded by the last gene of the phage shock protein operon, is one of the nine proteins of Escherichia coli that contain a rhodanese homology domain. PspE is synthesized as a precursor with a 19-amino acid signal sequence and secreted to the periplasm. Mature PspE is the smallest rhodanese of E. coli (85 amino acids) and catalyzes the transfer of sulfur from thiosulfate to cyanide forming thiocyanate and sulfite. Cation exchange chromatography of a freeze-thaw extract of a PspE-overexpressing strain yielded two major peaks of active, homogeneous PspE. The two peaks contained two forms of PspE (PspE1 and PspE2) of distinct size and/or charge that were distinguished by native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and gel chromatography. PspE2 was converted to the more compact PspE1 by treatment with thiosulfate, which suggested that PspE1 is the persulfide form. One equivalent of cyanizable sulfur was associated with PspE1, with much less present in PspE2. Consistent with the conclusion that the single active site cysteine of PspE1 contains a persulfide sulfur was the observation that this form was much more tolerant to chemical inactivation by thiol-specific modifying reagent DTNB (5,5â -dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid)). Rhodanese activity was subject to inhibition by anions (sulfite, sulfate, chloride, phosphate and arsenate), suggesting PspE has a cationic site for substrate binding. Kinetic analysis revealed that PspE employs a double-displacement mechanism, as is the case for other rhodaneses. The Kms for SSO32- and CN- were 3.0 and 43 mM, respectively. PspE exhibited a kcat of 72 s-1. To aid in understanding the physiological role of PspE, a strain with a pspE gene disruption was constructed. Comparison of rhodanese activity in extracts of wild-type and mutant strains revealed that PspE is a major contributor of rhodanese activity in E. coli. The pspE mutant displayed no obvious growth defect or auxotrophies, and was capable of molybdopterin biosynthesis, indicating that pspE is not essential for production of sulfur-containing amino acid or cofactors. Growth of wild-type and mutant strains deficient in pspE and other sulfurtransferase paralogs in medium with cyanide or cadmium was compared. The results indicated that neither PspE nor other E. coli rhodanese paralogs play roles in cyanide or cadmium detoxification. The physiological role of PspE remains to be determined.
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