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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Changing the substrate specificity of penicillin G acylase from Kluyvera citrophila through selective pressure.

Escherichia coli (muT, mutD, Leu-) cells transformed with plasmid pYKD59 harbouring the pac gene encoding penicillin acylase (PA) from Kluyvera citrophila ATCC 21285 were exposed to environmental conditions that made expression of this enzyme essential for growth. Under these conditions, spontaneous mutants were isolated that used adipyl-L-leucine as the sole source of L-leucine. DNA sequencing of the mutant pac genes identified a transversion mutation of thymine to guanine at position 1163. This mutation was located in the beta-subunit of the enzyme and resulted in conversion of Phe-360 to valine. The assignment of this mutation to the shift in substrate specificity was further confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Secondary-structure prediction of the region surrounding Phe-360 suggests that this mutation should not produce any significant structural change. The purified mutant acylase was able to hydrolyse adipyl-, glutaryl-, valeryl-, caproyl-, heptanoyl- and phenoxyacetyl-L-leucine at pH 5 with greater efficiency than the wild-type enzyme. However, the mutant enzyme was not able to hydrolyse glutaryl-7-aminocephalosporanic acid and had lost 90% and 50% of activity on penicillin G and phenylacetyl-L-leucine respectively. Nevertheless, mutant PA retained its original activity on 6-nitro-3-phenylacetamidobenzoate and p-nitrophenylphenylacetate, suggesting that the binding specificity of PA by the acyl and amine moieties of the substrate are not independent phenomena. The small differences observed between the c.d. spectra of the mutant enzyme recorded at pH 5 and 8 suggest the existence of different conformational states at the two pH values, but these differences were indistinguishable from those observed in the native enzyme and cannot be correlated with the shift in substrate specificity. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to change the specificity of PA by laboratory evolution and use it to identify the amino acids involved in substrate recognition. However, the synchronous participation of the alpha- and beta-subunits in the complex induced-fit-like mechanism of acylases suggests that, to obtain new enzymes for industrial application, the selection pressure should be specifically designed for the compound of interest.[1]


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