The objective of this work is to determine the molecular mechanism and regulation of short-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (SCAD) from Megasphaera elsdenii. To achieve this, the gene coding for SCAD from M. elsdenii was cloned and sequenced. Site-directed mutagenesis was then used to identify an amino acid residue that is required for the proposed mechanism. To clone the gene, the amino acid sequence of the 50 N-terminal residues of SCAD from M. elsdenii was determined. This sequence information was utilized to synthesize two sets of mixed oligonucleotide primers which were then used to generate a 120-bp specific probe from M. elsdenii DNA by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. The 120-bp probe was used to screen a M. elsdenii genomic DNA library cloned into Escherichia coli. The gene encoding M. elsdenii SCAD was identified from this library, sequenced, and expressed. The cloned SCAD gene contained an open reading frame which revealed a high degree of sequence identity with an open reading frame protein sequence of the human SCAD and the rat medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) (44% and 36% identical residues in paired comparisons for human SCAD and rat MCAD, respectively). Recombinant SCAD expressed from a pUC119 vector accounted for 35% of the cytosolic protein in the Escherichia coli crude extract. The expressed protein had similar activity, redox potential properties, and nearly identical amino acid composition to native M. elsdenii SCAD. In addition, a site-directed Glu367Gln mutant of SCAD expressed from a pUC119 vector was shown to have minimal reductive and oxidative pathway activity with butyryl-CoA and crotonyl-CoA, respectively. Residue Glu367 has been proposed to initiate catalysis by abstracting the substrate α-proton. This is the first of the site-directed mutants that will enable us to characterize the mechanism and thermodynamic regulation of M. elsdenii SCAD.
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