Computational and Experimental Studies of the Catalytic Mechanism of Thermobifida Fusca Cellulase Cel6A (E2)

G. André, P. Kanchanawong, R. Palma, H. Cho, X. Deng, D. Irwin, M. E. Himmel, D. B. Wilson, J. W. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus Citations


Mutagenesis experiments suggest that Asp79 in cellulase Cel6A (E2) from Thermobifida fusca has a catalytic role, in spite of the fact that this residue is more than 13 Å from the scissile bond in models of the enzyme-substrate complex built upon the crystal structure of the protein. This suggests that there is a substantial conformational shift in the protein upon substrate binding. Molecular mechanics simulations were used to investigate possible alternate conformations of the protein bound to a tetrasaccharide substrate, primarily involving shifts of the loop containing Asp79, and to model the role of water in the active site complex for both the native conformation and alternative low-energy conformations. Several alternative conformations of reasonable energy have been identified, including one in which the overall energy of the enzyme-substrate complex in solution is lower than that of the conformation in the crystal structure. This conformation was found to be stable in molecular dynamics simulations with a cellotetraose substrate and water. In simulations of the substrate complexed with the native protein conformation, the sugar ring in the -1 binding site was observed to make a spontaneous transition from the 4C1 conformation to a twist-boat conformer, consistent with generally accepted glycosidase mechanisms. Also, from these simulations Tyr73 and Arg78 were found to have important roles in the active site. Based on the results of these various MD simulations, a new catalytic mechanism is proposed. Using this mechanism, predictions about the effects of changes in Arg78 were made which were confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalProtein Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-510-34488


  • Catalytic mechanism
  • Cellulase Cel6A (E2)
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Mutagenesis
  • Thermobifida fusca


Dive into the research topics of 'Computational and Experimental Studies of the Catalytic Mechanism of Thermobifida Fusca Cellulase Cel6A (E2)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this