The human PRODH gene has been shown to have unique roles in regulating cell survival and apoptotic pathways and it has been related to velocardiofacial syndrome/DiGeorge syndrome and increased susceptibility to schizophrenia. It encodes for the flavoprotein proline oxidase (PO), which catalyzes the conversion of l-proline to Δ(1)-pyrroline-5-carboxylate. Despite the important physiological and medical interest in human PO, up to now only microbial homologues of PO have been expressed as recombinant protein and fully characterized. By using a bioinformatics analysis aimed at identifying the catalytic domain and the regions with a high intrinsic propensity to structural disorder, we designed deletion variants of human PO that were successfully expressed in Escherichia coli as soluble proteins in fairly high amounts (up to 10mg/L of fermentation broth). The His-tagged PO-barrelN protein was isolated as an active (the specific activity is 0.032U/mg protein), dimeric holoenzyme showing the typical spectral properties of FAD-containing flavoprotein oxidases. These results pave the way for elucidating structure-function relationships of this human flavoenzyme and clarifying the effect of the reported polymorphisms associated with disease states.
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