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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986 Jun;83(11):3743-5.

Site-directed mutagenesis and the role of the oxyanion hole in subtilisin.


Oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis was used to investigate the nature of transition state stabilization in the catalytic mechanism of the serine protease, subtilisin BPN'. The gene for this extracellular enzyme from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens has been cloned and expressed in Bacillus subtilis. In the transition state complex, the carbonyl group of the peptide bond to be hydrolyzed is believed to adopt a tetrahedral configuration rather than the ground-state planar configuration. Crystallographic studies suggest that stabilization of this activated complex is accomplished in part through the donation of a hydrogen bond from the amide side group of Asn-155 to the carbonyl oxygen of the peptide substrate. To specifically test this hypothesis, leucine was introduced at position 155. Leucine is isosteric with asparagine but is incapable of donating a hydrogen bond to the tetrahedral intermediate. The Leu-155 variant was found to have an unaltered Km but a greatly reduced catalytic rate constant, kcat, (factor of 200-300 smaller) when assayed with a peptide substrate. These kinetic results are consistent with the Asn-155 mediating stabilization of the activated complex and lend further experimental support for the transition-state stabilization hypothesis of enzyme catalysis.

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