3'-Phosphoadenosine 5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) synthases, naturally fragile enzymes specifically stabilized by nucleotide binding

Johannes van den Boom, Dominik Heider, Stephen R Martin, Annalisa Pastore, Jonathan W Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Activated sulfate in the form of 3'-phosphoadenosine 5'-phosphosulfate (PAPS) is needed for all sulfation reactions in eukaryotes with implications for the build-up of extracellular matrices, retroviral infection, protein modification, and steroid metabolism. In metazoans, PAPS is produced by bifunctional PAPS synthases (PAPSS). A major question in the field is why two human protein isoforms, PAPSS1 and -S2, are required that cannot complement for each other. We provide evidence that these two proteins differ markedly in their stability as observed by unfolding monitored by intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence as well as circular dichroism spectroscopy. At 37 °C, the half-life for unfolding of PAPSS2 is in the range of minutes, whereas PAPSS1 remains structurally intact. In the presence of their natural ligand, the nucleotide adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate (APS), PAPS synthase proteins are stabilized. Invertebrates only possess one PAPS synthase enzyme that we classified as PAPSS2-type by sequence-based machine learning techniques. To test this prediction, we cloned and expressed the PPS-1 protein from the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans and also subjected this protein to thermal unfolding. With respect to thermal unfolding and the stabilization by APS, PPS-1 behaved like the unstable human PAPSS2 protein suggesting that the less stable protein is evolutionarily older. Finally, APS binding more than doubled the half-life for unfolding of PAPSS2 at physiological temperatures and effectively prevented its aggregation on a time scale of days. We propose that protein stability is a major contributing factor for PAPS availability that has not as yet been considered. Moreover, naturally occurring changes in APS concentrations may be sensed by changes in the conformation of PAPSS2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17645-55
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2012


  • Adenosine Phosphosulfate
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Folding
  • Sulfate Adenylyltransferase


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