A Bifunctional dCTP Deaminase-dUTP Nucleotidohydrolase from the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii

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By the sequential action of dCTP deaminase and dUTPase, dCTP is converted to dUMP, the precursor of thymidine nucleotides. In addition, dUTPase has an essential role as a safeguard against uracil incorporation in DNA. The putative dCTP deaminase (MJ0430) and dUTPase (MJ1102) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii were overproduced in Escherichia coli. Unexpectedly, we found the MJ0430 protein capable of both reactions, i.e. hydrolytic deamination of the cytosine ring and hydrolytic cleavage of the phosphoanhydride bond between the - and -phosphates. When the reaction was followed by thin layer chromatography using [3H]dCTP as substrate, dUMP and not dUTP was identified as a reaction product. In the presence of unlabeled dUTP, which acted as an inhibitor, no label was transferred from [3H]dCTP to the pool of dUTP. This finding strongly suggests that the two consecutive steps of the reaction are tightly coupled within the enzyme. The hitherto unknown bifunctionality of the MJ0430 protein appears beneficial for the cells because the toxic intermediate dUTP is never released. The MJ0430 protein also catalyzed the hydrolysis of dUTP to dUMP but with a low affinity for the substrate (Km >100 µM). According to limited proteolysis, the C-terminal residues constitute a flexible region. The other protein investigated, MJ1102, is a specific dUTPase with a Km for dUTP (0.4 µM) comparable in magnitude with that found for previously characterized dUTPases. Its physiological function is probably to degrade dUTP derived from other reactions in nucleotide metabolism.


  • Olof Björnberg
  • Jan Neuhard
  • Per-Olof Nyman
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20667-20672
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Biochemistry and Structural Biology (S) (000006142), Biology building (Closed 2011) (011008000)