One of the many interactions important for stabilizing the T state of aspartate carbamoyltransferase occurs between residues Tyr240 and Asp271 within one catalytic chain. The functional importance of this polar interaction was documented by site-directed mutagenesis in which the tyrosine was replaced by a phenylalanine [Middleton, S. A., & Kantrowitz, E. R. (1986) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83, 5866–5870]. In the Tyr240 → Phe mutant, the aspartate concentration required to achieve half-maximum velocity is reduced to 4.7 from 11.9 mM for the native enzyme. Here, we report an X-ray crystallographic study of the Tyr240 → Phe enzyme at 2.5-Å resolution. While employing crystallization conditions identical with those used to grow cytidine triphosphate ligated T-state crystals of the native enzyme, we obtain crystals of the mutant enzyme that are isomorphous to those of the native enzyme. Refinement of the mutant structure to an R factor of 0.219 (only eight solvent molecules included) and subsequent comparison to the native T-state structure indicate that the quaternary, tertiary, and secondary structures of the mutant are similar to those for the native T-state enzyme. However, the conformation of Phe240 in one of the two crystallographically independent catalytic chains contained in the asymmetric unit is significantly different from the conformation of Tyr240 in the native T-state enzyme and similar to the conformation of Tyr240 as determined from the R-state structure [Ke, H.-M., Lipscomb, W. N., Cho, Y. J., & Honzatko, R. B. (1988) J. Mol. Biol, (in press)], thereby indicating that the mutant has made a conformational change toward the R state, localized at the site of the mutation in one of the catalytic chains.
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