Atypical N-terminal extensions confer novel regulatory properties on GTP cyclohydrolase isoforms in Drosophila melanogaster

Christopher D. Funderburk, Kevin M. Bowling, Dong Xu, Zhinong Huang, Janis M. O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The cofactor tetrahydrobiopterin plays critical roles in the modulation of the signaling molecules dopamine, serotonin, and nitric oxide. Deficits in cofactor synthesis have been associated with several human hereditary diseases. Responsibility for the regulation of cofactor pools resides with the first enzyme in its biosynthetic pathway, GTP cyclohydrolase I. Because organisms must be able to rapidly respond to environmental and developmental cues to adjust output of these signaling molecules, complex regulatory mechanisms are vital for signal modulation. Mammalian GTP cyclohydrolase is subject to end-product inhibition via an associated regulatory protein and to positive regulation via phosphorylation, although target residues are unknown. GTP cyclohydrolase is composed of a highly conserved homodecameric catalytic core and non-conserved N-terminal domains proposed to be regulatory sites. We demonstrate for the first time in any organism that the N-terminal arms of the protein serve regulatory functions. We identify two different modes of regulation of the enzyme mediated through the N-terminal domains. The first is end-product feedback inhibition, catalytically similar to that of the mammalian enzyme, except that feedback inhibition by the cofactor requires sequences in the N-terminal arms rather than a separate regulatory protein. The second is a novel inhibitory interaction between the N-terminal arms and the active sites, which can be alleviated through the phosphorylation of serine residues within the N termini. Both mechanisms allow for acute and highly responsive regulation of cofactor production as required by downstream signaling pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33302-33312
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Nov 3 2006


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