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The use of methanethiosulfonates as thiol-specific modifying reagents in the strategy of combined site-directed mutagenesis and chemical modification allows virtually unlimited opportunities for creating new protein surface environments. As a consequence of our interest in electrostatic manipulation as a means of tailoring enzyme activity and specificity, we have adopted this approach for the controlled incorporation of multiple negative charges at single sites in the representative serine protease, subtilisin Bacillus lentus (SBL). A series of mono-, di- and triacidic acid methanethiosulfonates were synthesized and used to modify cysteine mutants of SBL at positions 62 in the S2 site, 156 and 166 in the S1 site and 217 in the S1' site. Kinetic parameters for these chemically modified mutant (CMM) enzymes were determined at pH 8.6 under conditions which ensured complete ionization of the unnatural amino acid side-chains introduced. The presence of up to three negative charges in the S1, S1' and S2 subsites of SBL resulted in up to 11-fold lowered activity, possibly due to interference with oxyanion stabilization of the transition state of the hydrolytic reactions catalyzed. Each unit increase in negative charge resulted in a raising of K(M) and a reduction of k(cat). However, no upper limit was observed for increases in K(M), whereas decreases in k(cat) reached a limiting value. Comparison with sterically similar but uncharged CMMs revealed that electrostatic effects of negative charges at positions 62, 156 and 217 are detrimental, but are beneficial at position 166. These results indicate that the ground-state binding of SBL to the standard substrate, Suc-AAPF-pNA, to SBL is reduced, but without drastic attenuation of catalytic efficiency, and show that SBL tolerates high levels of charge at single sites.

Original publication




Journal article


Bioorg Med Chem

Publication Date





2293 - 2301


Amino Acids, Bacillus, Catalysis, Electrochemistry, Kinetics, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Subtilisin, Sulfhydryl Reagents, Thiosulfonic Acids