Mapping Post-Translational Modifications of de Novo Purine Biosynthetic Enzymes: Implications for Pathway Regulation

Purines represent a class of essential metabolites produced by the cell to maintain cellular homeostasis and facilitate cell proliferation. In times of high purine demand, the de novo purine biosynthetic pathway is activated; however, the mechanisms that facilitate this process are largely unknown. One plausible mechanism is through intracellular signaling, which results in enzymes within the pathway becoming post-translationally modified to enhance their individual enzyme activities and the overall pathway metabolic flux. Here, we employ a proteomic strategy to investigate the extent to which de novo purine biosynthetic pathway enzymes are post-translationally modified in 293T cells. We identified 7 post-translational modifications on 135 residues across the 6 human pathway enzymes. We further asked whether there were differences in the post-translational modification state of each pathway enzyme isolated from cells cultured in the presence or absence of purines. Of the 174 assigned modifications, 67% of them were only detected in one experimental growth condition in which a significant number of serine and threonine phosphorylations were noted. A survey of the most-probable kinases responsible for these phosphorylation events uncovered a likely AKT phosphorylation site at residue Thr397 of PPAT, which was only detected in cells under purine-supplemented growth conditions. These data suggest that this modification might alter enzyme activity or modulate its interaction(s) with downstream pathway enzymes. Together, these findings propose a role for post-translational modifications in pathway regulation and activation to meet intracellular purine demand.