Aspartate-162 in the catalytic chain of aspartate transcarbamoylase is conserved in all of the sequences determined to date. The X-ray structure of the Escherichia coli enzyme indicates that this residue is located in a loop region (160's loop) that is near the interface between two catalytic trimers and is also close to the active site. In order to test whether this conserved residue is important for support of the internal architecture of the enzyme and/or involved in transmitting homotropic and heterotropic effects, the function of this residue was studied using a mutant version of the enzyme with an alanine at this position (Asp-162----Ala) created by site-specific mutagenesis. The Asp-162----Ala enzyme exhibits a 400-fold reduction in the maximal observed specific activity, approximately 2-fold and 10-fold decreases in the aspartate and carbamoyl phosphate concentrations at half the maximal observed specific activity respectively, a loss of homotropic cooperativity, and loss of response to the regulatory nucleotides ATP and CTP. Furthermore, equilibrium binding studies indicate that the affinity of the mutant enzyme for CTP is reduced more than 10-fold. The isolated catalytic subunit exhibits a 660-fold reduction in maximal observed specific activity compared to the wild-type catalytic subunit. The Km values for aspartate and carbamoyl phosphate for the Asp-162----Ala catalytic subunit were within 2-fold of the values observed for the wild-type catalytic subunit. Computer simulations of the energy-minimized mutant enzyme indicate that the space once occupied by the side chain of Asp-162 may be filled by other side chains, suggesting that Asp-162 is important for stabilizing the internal architecture of the wild-type enzyme.