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Biochemistry. 2000 Jun 20;39(24):7276-83.

Mutational evidence of transition state stabilization by serine 88 in Escherichia coli type I signal peptidase.

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Department of Chemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Type I signal peptidase (SPase I) catalyzes the hydrolytic cleavage of the N-terminal signal peptide from translocated preproteins. SPase I belongs to a novel class of Ser proteases that utilize a Ser/Lys dyad catalytic mechanism instead of the classical Ser/His/Asp triad found in most Ser proteases. Recent X-ray crystallographic studies indicate that the backbone amide nitrogen of the catalytic Ser 90 and the hydroxyl side chain of Ser 88 might participate as H-bond donors in the transition-state oxyanion hole. In this work, contribution of the side-chain Ser 88 in Escherichia coli SPase I to the stabilization of the transition state was investigated through in vivo and in vitro characterizations of Ala-, Cys-, and Thr-substituted mutants. The S88T mutant maintains near-wild-type activity with the substrate pro-OmpA nuclease A. In contrast, substitution with Cys at position 88 results in more than a 740-fold reduction in activity (k(cat)) whereas S88A retains much less activity (>2440-fold decrease). Measurements of the kinetic constants of the individual mutant enzymes indicate that these decreases in activity are attributed mainly to decreases in k(cat) while effects on K(m) are minimal. Thermal inactivation and CD spectroscopic analyses indicate no global conformational perturbations of the Ser 88 mutants relative to the wild-type E. coli SPase I enzyme. These results provide strong evidence for the stabilization by Ser 88 of the oxyanion intermediate during catalysis by E. coli SPase I.

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