The mechanism of the amidases: mutating the glutamate adjacent to the catalytic triad inactivates the enzyme due to substrate mispositioning

Journal Article


Journal Title

Journal of Biological Chemistry

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


University of Cape Town

All known nitrilase superfamily amidase and carbamoylase structures have an additional glutamate thatis hydrogen bonded to the catalytic lysine in addition to the Glu, Lys, Cys “catalytic triad.” In the amidase from Geobacillus pallidus, mutating this glutamate (Glu-142) to a leucine or aspartate renders the enzyme inactive. X-ray crystal structure determination shows that the structural integrity of the enzymeismaintained despite themutation with the catalytic cysteine (Cys-166), lysine (Lys-134), and glutamate (Glu- 59)in positions similar to those of the wild-type enzyme. In the case of the E142L mutant, a chloride ion is located in the position occupied by Glu-142 O 1 in the wild-type enzyme andinteracts with the active site lysine. In the case of the E142D mutant, this site is occupied by Asp-142 O1.In neither case is an atom located at the position of Glu-142 O 2 in the wild-type enzyme. The active site cysteine of the E142Lmutant was found to form aMichael adduct with acrylamide, which is a substrate of the wild-type enzyme, due to an interaction that places the double bond of the acrylamide rather than the amide carbonyl carbon adjacent to the active site cysteine. Our results demonstrate that in the wild-type active site a crucial role is played by the hydrogen bond between Glu-142 O 2 and the substrate amino groupin positioning the substrate with the correct stereoelectronic alignment to enable the nucleophilic attack on the carbonyl carbon by the catalytic cysteine.