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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 15;276(24):21500-5. Epub 2001 Apr 9.

Engineering delta 9-16:0-acyl carrier protein (ACP) desaturase specificity based on combinatorial saturation mutagenesis and logical redesign of the castor delta 9-18:0-ACP desaturase.

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Biology Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973, USA.


Six amino acid locations in the soluble castor Delta(9)-18:0-acyl carrier protein (ACP) desaturase were identified that can affect substrate specificity. Combinatorial saturation mutagenesis of these six amino acids, in conjunction with selection, using an unsaturated fatty acid auxotroph system, led to the isolation of variants with up to 15-fold increased specific activity toward 16-carbon substrates. The most improved mutant, com2, contained two substitutions (T117R/G188L) common to five of the 19 complementing variants subjected to further analysis. These changes, when engineered into otherwise wild-type 18:0-ACP desaturase to make mutant 5.2, produced a 35-fold increase in specific activity with respect to 16-carbon substrates. Kinetic analysis revealed changes in both k(cat) and K(m) that result in an 82-fold improvement in specificity factor for 16-carbon substrate compared with wild-type enzyme. Improved substrate orientation apparently compensated for loss of binding energy that results from the loss of desolvation energy for 16-carbon substrates. Mutant 5.2 had specific activity for 16-carbon substrates 2 orders of magnitude higher than those of known natural 16-carbon specific desaturases. These data support the hypothesis that it should be possible to reengineer archetypal enzymes to achieve substrate specificities characteristic of recently evolved enzymes while retaining the desired stability and/or turnover characteristics of a parental paralog.

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