Using purified bacterially expressed herpes simplex virus type 1 ribonucleotide reductase large subunit (R1) and the proteolytic enzymes chymotrypsin and trypsin, we have generated stable N-terminal truncations. Chymotrypsin removes 246 amino acids from the amino terminus to produce a fragment (dN246R1) which retains full enzymic activity and affinity for the small subunit (R2). Treatment of R1 with trypsin produces a 120K protein and a cleavage at amino acid residue 305 to produce a fragment (dN305R1) which remains associated with a 33K N-terminal polypeptide. Although this 33K-dN305R1 complex retains full binding affinity for R2 its reductase activity is reduced by approximately 50%. Increasing the concentration of trypsin removes the 33K N-terminal polypeptide resulting in dN305R1 which, when bound to R2, has full ribonucleotide reductase activity. Like R1, dN246R1 and dN305R1 each exist as dimers showing that the first 305 amino acids of R1 are not necessary for dimer formation. These results indicate that, in structural studies of subunit interaction, dN246R1 or dN305R1 can be considered as suitable replacements for intact R1.


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