Structural studies on the synchronization of catalytic centers in glutamate synthase.
ABSTRACT The complex iron-sulfur flavoprotein glutamate synthase (GltS) plays a prominent role in ammonia assimilation in bacteria, yeasts, and plants. GltS catalyzes the formation of two molecules of l-glutamate from 2-oxoglutarate and l-glutamine via intramolecular channeling of ammonia. GltS has the impressive ability of synchronizing its distinct catalytic centers to avoid wasteful consumption of l-glutamine. We have determined the crystal structure of the ferredoxin-dependent GltS in several ligation and redox states. The structures reveal the crucial elements in the synchronization between the glutaminase site and the 2-iminoglutarate reduction site. The structural data combined with the catalytic properties of GltS indicate that binding of ferredoxin and 2-oxoglutarate to the FMN-binding domain of GltS induce a conformational change in the loop connecting the two catalytic centers. The rearrangement induces a shift in the catalytic elements of the amidotransferase domain, such that it becomes activated. This machinery, over a distance of more than 30 A, controls the ability of the enzyme to bind and hydrolyze the ammonia-donating substrate l-glutamine.