Novel enzyme activities and functional plasticity revealed by recombining highly homologous enzymes

Sun Ai Raillard, Anke Krebber, Yonghong Chen, Jon E. Ness, Ericka Bermudez, Rossana Trinidad, Rachel Fullem, Christopher Davis, Mark Welch, Jennifer Seffernick, Lawrence P. Wackett, Willem P.C. Stemmer, Jeremy Minshull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Background: Directed evolution by DNA shuffling has been used to modify physical and catalytic properties of biological systems. We have shuffled two highly homologous triazine hydrolases and conducted an exploration of the substrate specificities of the resulting enzymes to acquire a better understanding of the possible distributions of novel functions in sequence space. Results: Both parental enzymes and a library of 1600 variant triazine hydrolases were screened against a synthetic library of 15 triazines. The shuffled library contained enzymes with up to 150-fold greater transformation rates than either parent. It also contained enzymes that hydrolyzed five of eight triazines that were not substrates for either starting enzyme. Conclusions: Permutation of nine amino acid differences resulted in a set of enzymes with surprisingly diverse patterns of reactions catalyzed. The functional richness of this small area of sequence space may aid our understanding of both natural and artificial evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-898
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Yan Chen and Kim Perry for technical assistance, Robin Emig, Rob Pak, Claes Gustafsson, Sridhar Govindarajan, Troy Obero and Walker Lutringer for automation and data analysis support, and Stephen Raillard, Brian Shoichet, Mike Sadowsky and Russell Howard for helpful discussions, insights and comments on the manuscript. Jennifer Seffernick was supported by NIH training Grant GM08347.


  • Enzyme activity
  • Functional plasticity
  • Homologous enzymes
  • Triazine hydrolases


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