Heme-binding enables allosteric modulation in an ancient TIM-barrel glycosidase

Gloria Gamiz-Arco, Luis I. Gutierrez-Rus, Valeria A. Risso, Beatriz Ibarra-Molero, Yosuke Hoshino, Dušan Petrović, Jose Justicia, Juan Manuel Cuerva, Adrian Romero-Rivera, Burckhard Seelig, Jose A. Gavira, Shina C.L. Kamerlin, Eric A. Gaucher, Jose M. Sanchez-Ruiz

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12 Scopus citations


Glycosidases are phylogenetically widely distributed enzymes that are crucial for the cleavage of glycosidic bonds. Here, we present the exceptional properties of a putative ancestor of bacterial and eukaryotic family-1 glycosidases. The ancestral protein shares the TIM-barrel fold with its modern descendants but displays large regions with greatly enhanced conformational flexibility. Yet, the barrel core remains comparatively rigid and the ancestral glycosidase activity is stable, with an optimum temperature within the experimental range for thermophilic family-1 glycosidases. None of the ∼5500 reported crystallographic structures of ∼1400 modern glycosidases show a bound porphyrin. Remarkably, the ancestral glycosidase binds heme tightly and stoichiometrically at a well-defined buried site. Heme binding rigidifies this TIM-barrel and allosterically enhances catalysis. Our work demonstrates the capability of ancestral protein reconstructions to reveal valuable but unexpected biomolecular features when sampling distant sequence space. The potential of the ancestral glycosidase as a scaffold for custom catalysis and biosensor engineering is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number380
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Human Frontier Science Program Grant RGP0041 (J.M.S.-R., E.A.G., B.S., and S.C.L.K.), NIH grant R01AR069137 (E.A.G.), Department of Defense grant MURI W911NF-16-1-0372 (E.A.G.), the Swedish Research Council (2019-03499) (S.C.L.K.), the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (2018.0140 and 2019.0431) (S.C.L.K.), Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness/FEDER Funds Grants BIO2015-66426-R (J.M.S.-R.) RTI2018-097142-B-100 (J.M.S.-R.) and BIO2016-74875-P (J.A.G.). The simulations were enabled by resources provided by the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) at UPPMAX partially funded by the Swedish Research Council through grant agreement no. 2016-07213. We acknowledge the Spanish Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ALBA, Barcelona) for the provision of synchrotron radiation facilities and the staff at XALOC beamline for their invaluable support. We are also grateful to Victoria Longobardo Polanco (Proteomic Unit, Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine “López-Neyra”) for help with mass spectrometry experiments and data analyses and to Juan Román Luque Ortega (Molecular Interactions Facility, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Margarita Salas) for help with ultracentrifugation experiments and data analyses.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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