In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which uses the nonlinear pathway of arginine biosynthesis, the first two enzymes, N-acetylglutamate synthase (NAGS) and N-acetylglutamate kinase (NAGK), are controlled by feedback inhibition. We have previously shown that NAGS and NAGK associate in a complex, essential to synthase activity and protein level [Abadjieva, A., Pauwels, K., Hilven, P. & Crabeel, M. (2001) J. Biol. Chem.276, 42869-42880]. The NAGKs of ascomycetes possess, in addition to the catalytic domain that is shared by all other NAGKs and whose structure has been determined, a C-terminal domain of unknown function and structure. Exploring the role of these two domains in the synthase/kinase interaction, we demonstrate that the ascomycete-specific domain is required to maintain synthase activity and protein level. Previous results had suggested a participation of the third enzyme of the pathway, N-acetylglutamylphosphate reductase, in the metabolon. Here, genetic analyses conducted in yeast at physiological level, or in a heterologous background, clearly demonstrate that the reductase is dispensable for synthase activity and protein level. Most importantly, we show that the arginine feedback regulation of the NAGS and NAGK enzymes is mutually interdependent. First, the kinase becomes less sensitive to arginine feedback inhibition in the absence of the synthase. Second, and as in Neurospora crassa, in a yeast kinase mutant resistant to arginine feedback inhibition, the synthase becomes feedback resistant concomitantly. We conclude that the NAGS/NAGK metabolon promotes the co-ordination of the catalytic activities and feedback regulation of the first two, flux controlling, enzymes of the arginine pathway.
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