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Nat Chem Biol. 2008 May;4(5):306-12. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.81.

Structural and biochemical evidence for a boat-like transition state in beta-mannosidases.

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  • 1Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, The Medical School, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK.


Enzyme inhibition through mimicry of the transition state is a major area for the design of new therapeutic agents. Emerging evidence suggests that many retaining glycosidases that are active on alpha- or beta-mannosides harness unusual B2,5 (boat) transition states. Here we present the analysis of 25 putative beta-mannosidase inhibitors, whose Ki values range from nanomolar to millimolar, on the Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron beta-mannosidase BtMan2A. B2,5 or closely related conformations were observed for all tightly binding compounds. Subsequent linear free energy relationships that correlate log Ki with log Km/kcat for a series of active center variants highlight aryl-substituted mannoimidazoles as powerful transition state mimics in which the binding energy of the aryl group enhances both binding and the degree of transition state mimicry. Support for a B2,5 transition state during enzymatic beta-mannosidase hydrolysis should also facilitate the design and exploitation of transition state mimics for the inhibition of retaining alpha-mannosidases--an area that is emerging for anticancer therapeutics.

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