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Glycoconj J. 1998 Aug;15(8):769-75.

Effect of cysteine modifications on the activity of the 'small' Clostridium perfringens sialidase.

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Biochemisches Institut, Christian-Albrechts-Universit├Ąt, Kiel, Germany.


The 'small' (43 kDa) sialidase of Clostridium perfringens is inhibited by low concentrations of mercury ions. For the investigation of possible functional roles of the enzyme's four cysteine residues at the amino acid positions 2, 282, 333 and 349, they were separately altered to serine by site-directed mutagenesis. The four mutant sialidases expressed in E. coli and purified by metal chelate chromatography were markedly reduced in specific activity when compared to the wild-type enzyme but with the exception of C282S exhibited similar K(M)-values indicating an unchanged mode of substrate binding. The substrate specificity was also conserved for C2S, C282S, and C333S. Only the C349S sialidase exhibited a higher relative activity with colominic acid and the alpha2,6-linked sialic acid of sialyllactose compared to the alpha2,3-linked isomer than the other mutants. Chemical modifications with the thiol-blocking reagents N-ethylmaleimide (NEM), p-chloromercuribenzoate (pCMB) and HgCl2 had little effect on the C282S sialidase, e.g., 6% inhibition by 5 mM NEM compared to reductions in activity between 65 and 90% for the wild-type and other mutant enzymes, supporting the idea that among the enzyme's cysteines, Cys-282 has the highest structural or functional significance. The results also explain the higher mercury tolerance of Salmonella typhimurium and Clostridium tertium sialidases, which have the positions equivalent to Cys-282 altered to Val and Thr, respectively, indicating that the thiol group of Cys-282, despite being situated near the active site, is not involved in catalysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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