Uncoupling conformational states from activity in an allosteric enzyme

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ATP-phosphoribosyltransferase (ATP-PRT) is a hexameric enzyme in conformational equilibrium between an open and seemingly active state and a closed and presumably inhibited form. The structure-function relationship of allosteric regulation in this system is still not fully understood. Here, we develop a screening strategy for modulators of ATP-PRT and identify 3-(2-thienyl)-l-alanine (TIH) as an allosteric activator of this enzyme. Kinetic analysis reveals co-occupancy of the allosteric sites by TIH and l-histidine. Crystallographic and native ion-mobility mass spectrometry data show that the TIH-bound activated form of the enzyme closely resembles the inhibited l-histidine-bound closed conformation, revealing the uncoupling between ATP-PRT open and closed conformations and its functional state. These findings suggest that dynamic processes are responsible for ATP-PRT allosteric regulation and that similar mechanisms might also be found in other enzymes bearing a ferredoxin-like allosteric domain.