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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 11;284(50):35177-88. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.053801. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Heparin/heparan sulfate 6-O-sulfatase from Flavobacterium heparinum: integrated structural and biochemical investigation of enzyme active site and substrate specificity.

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  • 1Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Heparin and heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans (HSGAGs) comprise a chemically heterogeneous class of sulfated polysaccharides. The development of structure-activity relationships for this class of polysaccharides requires the identification and characterization of degrading enzymes with defined substrate specificity and enzymatic activity. Toward this end, we report here the molecular cloning and extensive structure-function analysis of a 6-O-sulfatase from the Gram-negative bacterium Flavobacterium heparinum. In addition, we report the recombinant expression of this enzyme in Escherichia coli in a soluble, active form and identify it as a specific HSGAG sulfatase. We further define the mechanism of action of the enzyme through biochemical and structural studies. Through the use of defined substrates, we investigate the kinetic properties of the enzyme. This analysis was complemented by homology-based molecular modeling studies that sought to rationalize the substrate specificity of the enzyme and mode of action through an analysis of the active-site topology of the enzyme including identifying key enzyme-substrate interactions and assigning key amino acids within the active site of the enzyme. Taken together, our structural and biochemical studies indicate that 6-O-sulfatase is a predominantly exolytic enzyme that specifically acts on N-sulfated or N-acetylated 6-O-sulfated glucosamines present at the non-reducing end of HSGAG oligosaccharide substrates. This requirement for the N-acetyl or N-sulfo groups on the glucosamine substrate can be explained through eliciting favorable interactions with key residues within the active site of the enzyme. These findings provide a framework that enables the use of 6-O-sulfatase as a tool for HSGAG structure-activity studies as well as expand our biochemical and structural understanding of this important class of enzymes.

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