The solution structure of serine protease PB92 from Bacillus alcalophilus presents a rigid fold with a flexible substrate-binding site

J R Martin, Frans A A Mulder, Y Karimi-Nejad, J van der Zwan, M Mariani, D Schipper, R Boelens

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BACKGROUND: Research on high-alkaline proteases, such as serine protease PB92, has been largely inspired by their industrial application as protein-degrading components of washing powders. Serine protease PB92 is a member of the subtilase family of enzymes, which has been extensively studied. These studies have included exhaustive protein engineering investigations and X-ray crystallography, in order to provide insight into the mechanism and specificity of enzyme catalysis. Distortions have been observed in the substrate-binding region of subtilisin crystal structures, due to crystal contacts. In addition, the structural variability in the substrate-binding region of subtilisins is often attributed to flexibility. It was hoped that the solution structure of this enzyme would provide further details about the conformation of this key region and give new insights into the functional properties of these enzymes.

RESULTS: The three-dimensional solution structure of the 269-residue (27 kDa) serine protease PB92 has been determined using distance and dihedral angle constraints derived from triple-resonance NMR data. The solution structure is represented by a family of 18 conformers which overlay onto the average structure with backbone and all-heavy-atom root mean square deviations (for the main body of the molecule) of 0.88 and 1.21 A, respectively. The family of structures contains a number of regions of relatively high conformational heterogeneity, including various segments that are involved in the formation of the substrate-binding site. The presence of flexibility within these segments has been established from NMR relaxation parameters and measurements of amide proton exchange rates.

CONCLUSIONS: The solution structure of the serine protease PB92 presents a well defined global fold which is rigid with the exception of a restricted number of sites. Among the limited number of residues involved in significant internal mobility are those of two pockets, termed S1 and S4, within the substrate-binding site. The presence of flexibility within the binding site supports the proposed induced fit mechanism of substrate binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-532
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacillus
  • Binding Sites
  • Computer Simulation
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Engineering
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Solutions
  • Subtilisins


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