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J Mol Biol. 2000 Nov 24;304(2):189-200.

Crystal structure of a cohesin module from Clostridium cellulolyticum: implications for dockerin recognition.

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Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques, UMR 6098, CNRS-Universités de Marseille I et II, 31 Chemin Joseph-Aiguier, Marseille, Cedex 20, 13402, France.


In the assembly of the Clostridium cellulolyticum cellulosome, the multiple cohesin modules of the scaffolding protein CipC serve as receptors for cellulolytic enzymes which bear a dockerin module. The X-ray structure of a type I C. cellulolyticum cohesin module (Cc-cohesin) has been solved using molecular replacement, and refined at 2.0 A resolution. Despite a rather low sequence identity of 32 %, this module has a fold close to those of the two Clostridium thermocellum cohesin (Ct-cohesin) modules whose 3D structures have been determined previously. Cc-cohesin forms a dimer in the crystal, as do the two Ct-cohesins. We show here that the dimer exists in solution and that addition of dockerin-containing proteins dissociates the dimer. This suggests that the dimerization interface and the cohesin/dockerin interface may overlap. The nature of the overall surface and of the dimer interface of Cc-cohesin differ notably from those of the Ct-cohesin modules, being much less polar, and this may explain the species specificity observed in the cohesin/dockerin interaction of C. cellulolyticum and C. thermocellum. We have produced a topology model of a C. cellulolyticum dockerin and of a Cc-cohesin/dockerin complex using homology modeling and available biochemical data. Our model suggests that a special residue pair, already identified in dockerin sequences, is located at the center of the cohesin surface putatively interacting with the dockerin.

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