Mutational analysis of active site residues in the Staphylococcus aureus transpeptidase SrtA

Brenda A Frankel, Yan Tong, Matthew L Bentley, Michael C Fitzgerald, Dewey G McCafferty
Biochemistry 2007 June 19, 46 (24): 7269-78
In Staphylococcus aureus, virulence and colonization-associated surface proteins are covalently anchored to the cell wall by the transpeptidase Sortase A (SrtA). In order to better understand the contribution of specific active site residues to substrate recognition and catalysis, we performed mutational analysis of several key residues in the SrtA active site. Analysis of protein stability, kinetic parameters, solvent isotope effects, and pH-rate profiles for key SrtA variants are consistent with a reverse protonated Cys184-His120 catalytic dyad, and implicate a role for Arg197 in formation of an oxyanion hole to stabilize the transition state. In contrast, mutation of Asp185 and Asp186 produced negligible effects on catalysis, and no evidence was found to support the existence of a functional catalytic triad. Mutation of Thr180, Leu181, and Ile182 to alanine produced modest decreases in SrtA activity and led to substrate inhibition. Thermodynamic stability measurements by SUPREX (stability of unpurified proteins from rates of H/D exchange) revealed decreases in conformational stability that correlate with the observed substrate inhibition for each variant, signifying a potential role for the conserved 180TLITC184 motif in defining the active-site architecture of SrtA. In contrast, mutation of Thr183 to alanine led to a significant 1200-fold decrease in kcat, which appears to be unrelated to conformational stability. Potential explanations for these results are discussed, and a revised model for SrtA catalysis is presented.

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