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Background: Asymmetric and symmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA and SDMA) residues are biologically distinct products of protein arginine methyltransferase (PRMT) isoforms. Results: Met-48 in PRMT1 regulates the regiochemistry of dimethylation, and SDMA formation is energetically costly. Conclusion: Steric changes in the PRMT1 active site can reprogram product formation. Significance: SDMA-forming PRMTs may require additional factors to overcome the energetic cost of SDMA. (1)