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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Nov;60(11):2501-9.

Role of Cys221 and Asn116 in the zinc-binding sites of the Aeromonas hydrophila metallo-beta-lactamase.

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Centre d'Ingénierie des Protéines, B6 Sart Tilman, Université de Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium.


The CphA metallo-beta-lactamase produced by Aeromonas hydrophila exhibits two zinc-binding sites. Maximum activity is obtained upon binding of one zinc ion, whereas binding of the second zinc ion results in a drastic decrease in the hydrolytic activity. In this study, we analyzed the role of Asn116 and Cys221, two residues of the active site. These residues were replaced by site-directed mutagenesis and the different mutants were characterized. The C221S and C221A mutants were seriously impaired in their ability to bind the first, catalytic zinc ion and were nearly completely inactive, indicating a major role for Cys221 in the binding of the catalytic metal ion. By contrast, the binding of the second zinc ion was only slightly affected, at least for the C221S mutant. Mutation of Asn116 did not lead to a drastic decrease in the hydrolytic activity, indicating that this residue does not play a key role in the catalytic mechanism. However, the substitution of Asn116 by a Cys or His residue resulted in an approximately fivefold increase in the affinity for the second, inhibitory zinc ion. Together, these data suggested that the first zinc ion is located in the binding site involving the Cys221 and that the second zinc ion binds in the binding site involving Asn116 and, presumably, His118 and His196.

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