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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jul 14;281(28):19251-9. Epub 2006 May 4.

Distinct enzymic functional groups are required for the phosphomonoesterase and phosphodiesterase activities of Clostridium thermocellum polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase.

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Molecular Biology Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The central phosphatase domain of Clostridium thermocellum polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase (CthPnkp) belongs to the dinuclear metallophosphoesterase superfamily. Prior mutational studies of CthPnkp identified 7 individual active site side chains (Asp-187, His-189, Asp-233, Asn-263, His-323, His-376, and Asp-392) required for Ni2+-dependent hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl phosphate. Here we find that Mn2+-dependent phosphomonoesterase activity requires two additional residues, Arg-237 and His-264. We report that CthPnkp also converts bis-p-nitrophenyl phosphate to p-nitrophenol and inorganic phosphate via a processive two-step mechanism. The Ni2+-dependent phosphodiesterase activity of CthPnkp requires the same seven side chains as the Ni2+-dependent phosphomonoesterase. However, the Mn2+-dependent phosphodiesterase activity does not require His-189, Arg-237, or His-264, each of which is critical for the Mn2+-dependent phosphomonoesterase. Mutations H189A, H189D, and D392N transform the metal and substrate specificity of CthPnkp such that it becomes a Mn2+-dependent phosphodiesterase. The H189E change results in a Mn2+/Ni2+-dependent phosphodiesterase. Mutations H376N, H376D, and D392E convert the enzyme into a Mn2+-dependent phosphodiesterase-monoesterase. The phosphodiesterase activity is strongly stimulated compared with wild-type CthPnkp when His-189 is changed to Asp, Arg-237 is replaced by Ala or Gln, and His-264 is replaced by Ala, Asn, or Gln. Steady-state kinetic analysis of wild-type and mutated enzymes illuminates the structural features that affect substrate affinity and kcat. Our results highlight CthPnkp as an "undifferentiated" diesterase-monoesterase that can evolve toward narrower metal and substrate specificities via alterations of the active site milieu.

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