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Biochem J. 2005 Sep 1;390(Pt 2):395-405.

Biochemical characterization of the chondroitinase ABC I active site.

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  • 1Division of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


cABC I (chondroitinase ABC I) from Proteus vulgaris is a GalAG (galactosaminoglycan) depolymerizing lyase that cleaves its substrates at the glycosidic bond via beta-elimination. cABC I cleaves a particularly broad range of GalAG substrates, including CS (chondroitin sulphate), DS (dermatan sulphate) and hyaluronic acid. We recently cloned and recombinantly expressed cABC I in Escherichia coli, and completed a preliminary biochemical characterization of the enzyme. In the present study, we have coupled site-directed mutagenesis of the recombinant cABC I with a structural model of the enzyme-substrate complex in order to investigate in detail the roles of active site amino acids in the catalytic action of the enzyme. The putative catalytic residues His-501, Tyr-508, Arg-560 and Glu-653 were probed systematically via mutagenesis. Assessment of these mutants in kinetic and end-point assays provided direct evidence on the catalytic roles of these active-site residues. The crystal structure of the native enzyme provided a framework for molecular docking of representative CS and DS substrates. This enabled us to construct recombinant enzyme-substrate structural complexes. These studies together provided structural insights into the effects of the mutations on the catalytic mechanism of cABC I and the differences in its processing of CS and DS substrates. All His-501 mutants were essentially inactive and thereby implicating this amino acid to play the critical role of proton abstraction during catalysis. The kinetic data for Glu-653 mutants indicated that it is involved in a hydrogen bonding network in the active site. The proximity of Tyr-508 to the glycosidic oxygen of the substrate at the site of cleavage suggested its potential role in protonating the leaving group. Arg-560 was proximal to the uronic acid C-5 proton, suggesting its possible role in the stabilization of the carbanion intermediate formed during catalysis.

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