The elongation factor 2 from the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus (SsEF-2) binds [3H]GDP at 1:1 molar ratio. The bound [3H]GDP is displaced by GTP or its non-hydrolyzable analogue Gpp(NH)p but not by ATP, thus indicating that only the two guanosine nucleotides compete for the same binding site. The affinity of SsEF-2 for [3H]GDP is higher than that for GTP and Gpp(NH)p. On the contrary, in the presence of ribosomes the affinity of SsEF-2 for GDP is lower than that for Gpp(NH)p. SsEF-2 is endowed with an intrinsic hardly detectable GTPase activity that is stimulated by ribosomes up to 2000-fold. The ribosome stimulated SsEF-2 GTPase (GTPaser) reaches a maximum at pH 7.8 and is not affected by ATP but is competitively inhibited by either GDP or Gpp(NH)p. Both Km for [g-32P]GTP and kcat of GTPaser increase with increasing temperature and the highest catalytic efficiency is reached at 80°C. The ADP-ribosylation of SsEF-2 does not significantly affect either the binding of GDP and GTP or the kinetics of the GTPaser. A hypothesis on the stimulation by ribosome of SsEF-2 GTPase is proposed.
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