Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) couple the oxidation of aldehydes to the reduction of NAD(P)+. These enzymes have gained importance as they have been related to the detoxification of aldehydes generated in several diseases involving oxidative stress. It has been determined that tetrameric ALDHs work only with two of their four active sites (half-of-the-sites reactivity), but the mechanistic reason for this feature remains unknown. In this study, tetrameric human aldehyde dehydrogenase class 1A1 (ALDH1A1) was dimerized to study the correlation of the oligomeric structure with the presence of half-of-the-sites reactivity. Stable dimers from ALDH1A1 were generated by combining the mutation of two residues of the dimer–dimer interface in the tetramer (previously shown to render a low-active and unstable enzyme) and the fusion of green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the C-terminus of the mutant. Some kinetic properties of the GFP-fusion mutant resembled those of human aldehyde dehydrogenase class 3A1, a native dimer, in that the fusion dimer did not show burst in the generation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and was less sensitive to the action of specific modulators. The presence of primary isotope effect indicated that the rate-limiting step changed from NADH release to hydride transfer. The mutant showed higher activity with malondialdehyde and acrolein and was more resistant to inactivation by acrolein compared with the wild type. The mutant kinetic profile showed two hyperbolic components when the substrates were varied, suggesting the presence of two active sites with different affinities and catalytic capacities. In conclusion, the ALDH1A1–GFP dimeric mutant exhibits full site reactivity, suggesting that only the tetrameric structure induces the half-of-the-sites reactivity. Proteins 2013; 81:1330–1339. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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