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J Biol Chem. 2010 Nov 12;285(46):35999-6009. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.166330. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

Recognition of the helical structure of beta-1,4-galactan by a new family of carbohydrate-binding modules.

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Department Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3P6, Canada.


The microbial enzymes that depolymerize plant cell wall polysaccharides, ultimately promoting energy liberation and carbon recycling, are typically complex in their modularity and often contain carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs). Here, through analysis of an unknown module from a Thermotoga maritima endo-β-1,4-galactanase, we identify a new family of CBMs that are most frequently found appended to proteins with β-1,4-galactanase activity. Polysaccharide microarray screening, immunofluorescence microscopy, and biochemical analysis of the isolated module demonstrate the specificity of the module, here called TmCBM61, for β-1,4-linked galactose-containing ligands, making it the founding member of family CBM61. The ultra-high resolution X-ray crystal structures of TmCBM61 (0.95 and 1.4 Å resolution) in complex with β-1,4-galactotriose reveal the molecular basis of the specificity of the CBM for β-1,4-galactan. Analysis of these structures provides insight into the recognition of an unexpected helical galactan conformation through a mode of binding that resembles the recognition of starch.

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