Re-engineering specificity in 1,3-1, 4-β-glucanase to accept branched xyloglucan substrates

Trevor Addington, Barbara Calisto, Mercedes Alfonso-Prieto, Carme Rovira, Ignasi Fita, Antoni Planas

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Family 16 carbohydrate active enzyme members Bacillus licheniformis 1,3-1,4-β-glucanase and Populus tremula x tremuloides xyloglucan endotransglycosylase (XET16-34) are highly structurally related but display different substrate specificities. Although the first binds linear gluco-oligosaccharides, the second binds branched xylogluco-oligosaccharides. Prior engineered nucleophile mutants of both enzymes are glycosynthases that catalyze the condensation between a glycosyl fluoride donor and a glycoside acceptor. With the aim of expanding the glycosynthase technology to produce designer oligosaccharides consisting of hybrids between branched xylogluco- and linear gluco-oligosaccharides, enzyme engineering on the negative subsites of 1,3-1,4-β-glucanase to accept branched substrates has been undertaken. Removal of the 1,3-1,4-β-glucanase major loop and replacement with that of XET16-34 to open the binding cleft resulted in a folded protein, which still maintained some β-glucan hydrolase activity, but the corresponding nucleophile mutant did not display glycosynthase activity with either linear or branched glycosyl donors. Next, point mutations of the 1,3-1,4-β-glucanase β-sheets forming the binding site cleft were mutated to resemble XET16-34 residues. The final chimeric protein acquired binding affinity for xyloglucan and did not bind β-glucan. Therefore, binding specificity has been re-engineered, but affinity was low and the nucleophile mutant of the chimeric enzyme did not show glycosynthase activity to produce the target hybrid oligosaccharides. Structural analysis by X-ray crystallography explains these results in terms of changes in the protein structure and highlights further engineering approaches toward introducing the desired activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-375
Number of pages11
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Chimeric enzyme
  • Engineering specificity
  • Glycosynthase
  • Xyloglucan endotransglycosylase
  • β-glucanase


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