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Nat Struct Biol. 1996 Feb;3(2):155-62.

X-ray structure of an anti-fungal chitosanase from streptomyces N174.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas, Austin 78712, USA.


We report the 2.4 A X-ray crystal structure of a protein with chitosan endo-hydrolase activity isolated from Streptomyces N174. The structure was solved using phases acquired by SIRAS from a two-site methyl mercury derivative combined with solvent flattening and non-crystallographic two-fold symmetry averaging, and refined to an R-factor of 18.5%. The mostly alpha-helical fold reveals a structural core shared with several classes of lysozyme and barley endochitinase, in spite of a lack of shared sequence. Based on this structural similarity we postulate a putative active site, mechanism of action and mode of substrate recognition. It appears that Glu 22 acts as an acid and Asp 40 serves as a general base to activate a water molecule for an SN2 attack on the glycosidic bond. A series of amino-acid side chains and backbone carbonyl groups may bind the polycationic chitosan substrate in a deep electronegative binding cleft.

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