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Binding and enzymatic properties of Ageritin, a fungal ribotoxin with novel zinc-dependent function

Ruggiero, Alessia, García-Ortega, Lucía, Moreira, Miguel, Ragucci, Sara, Landi, Nicola, Di Maro, Antimo, Berisio, Rita
International journal of biological macromolecules 2019 v.136 pp. 625-631
Basidiomycota, binding sites, cations, fungal proteins, fungi, insects, mechanism of action, parasites, ribonucleases, ribosomes, toxicity, virulence, zinc
Ribotoxins are fungal proteins that serve as weapons against parasites and insects. They are strongly toxic due to their ability to enter host cells and inactivate ribosomes. Ageritin is the prototype of a new ribotoxin-like protein family present in basidiomycetes. We demonstrate that this enzyme has peculiar binding and enzymatic features. Different from other ribotoxins, its ribonucleolytic activity requires the presence of divalent cations, with a maximum activation in the presence of zinc ions, for which Ageritin exhibits the strongest affinity of binding. We modeled the catalytic metal binding site of Ageritin, made of the putative triad Asp68, Asp70 and His77. This report highlights that Ageritin has the structure and function of an RNase but a Mg2+/Zn2+-dependent mechanism of action, a new finding for ribotoxins. As a zinc-dependent toxin, Ageritin can be classified among the arsenal of zinc-binding proteins involved in fungal virulence.