Vibert, P., York, M. L., Castellani, L., Edelstein, S., Elliott, B. & Nyitray, L.

Structure and distribution of mini-titins.

Adv Biophys 33, 199-209

Venekei, I., Szilágyi, L., Gráf, L. & Rutter, W. J.

Attempts to convert chymotrypsin to trypsin.

FEBS Lett 383, 143-7.

Trypsin and chymotrypsin have specificity pockets of essentially the same geometry, yet trypsin is specific for basic while chymotrypsin for bulky hydrophobic residues at the P1 site of the substrate. A model by Steitz, Henderson and Blow suggested the presence of a negative charge at site 189 as the major specificity determinant: Asp189 results in tryptic, while the lack of it chymotryptic specificity. However, recent mutagenesis studies have shown that a successful conversion of the specificity of trypsin to that of chymotrypsin requires the substitution of amino acids at sites 138, 172 and at thirteen other positions in two surface loops, that do not directly contact the substrate. For further testing the significance of these sites in substrate discrimination in trypsin and chymotrypsin, we tried to change the chymotrypsin specificity to trypsin-like specificity by introducing reverse substitutions in rat chymotrypsin. We report here that the specificity conversion is poor: the Ser189Asp mutation reduced the activity but the specificity remained chymotrypsin-like; on further substitutions the activity decreased further on both tryptic and chymotryptic substrates and the specificity was lost or became slightly trypsin-like. Our results indicate that in addition to structural elements already studied, further (chymotrypsin) specific sites have to be mutated to accomplish a chymotrypsin --> trypsin specificity conversion.

Venekei, I., Hedstrom, L. & Rutter, W. J.

A rapid and effective procedure for screening protease mutants.

Protein Eng 9, 85-93.

We describe a simple and effective procedure to screen for active proteases among a large number of mutants. First, the mutants are genetically tested by the protease activity produced in the periplasm of transformed bacteria which supplies the cells with a nitrogen source by hydrolyzing a protein applied to plates. Then a less sensitive activity staining and an X-ray film digestion assay are used to verify and estimate the activity of the mutants that proved to be positive in the first step. Depending essentially on the level of periplasmic protease activity, the method can detect both the activity and the stability of the expressed enzymes. We calibrated the method with transformants that produce wild-type trypsin, chymotrypsin and trypsin mutants of known activity. Using this method we found two active revertants of the inactive Asn102 trypsin mutant, by screening approximately 4.4 x 10(4) random mutants that were generated by the polymerase chain reaction on a cDNA fragment. This procedure should be useful in searching for proteases of novel specificity and/or reaction chemistry engineered by random mutagenesis, and also for in vitro evolution studies.

Venekei, I., Gráf, L. & Rutter, W. J.

Expression of rat chymotrypsinogen in yeast: a study on the structural and functional significance of the chymotrypsinogen propeptide.

FEBS Lett 379, 139-42.

The role of the propeptide sequence and a disulfide bridge between sites 1 and 122 in chymotrypsin has been examined by comparing enzyme activities of wild-type and mutant enzymes. The kinetic constants of mutants devoid of the Cys1-Cys122 disulfide-linked propeptide show that this linkage is not important either for activity or substrate specificity. However this linkage appears to be the major factor in keeping the zymogen stable against non-specific activation. A comparison of zymogen stabilities showed that the trypsinogen propeptide is ten times more effective than the chymotrypsinogen propeptide in preventing non-specific zymogen activation during heterologous expression and secretion from yeast. This feature can also be transferred in trans to chymotrypsinogen; i.e. the chymotrypsin trypsin propeptide chimera forms a stable zymogen.

Perreault-Micale, C. L., Kalabokis, V. N., Nyitray, L. & Szent-Györgyi, A. G.

Sequence variations in the surface loop near the nucleotide binding site modulate the ATP turnover rates of molluscan myosins.

J Muscle Res Cell Motil 17, 543-53.

The muscle and species-specific differences in enzymatic activity between Placopecten and Argopecten striated and catch muscle myosins are attributable to the myosin heavy chain. To identify sequences that may modulate these differences, we cloned and sequenced the cDNA encoding the myosin heavy chains of Placopecten striated and catch muscle. Deduced protein sequences indicate two similar isoforms in catch and striated myosins (97% identical); variations arise by differential RNA splicing of five alternative exons from a single myosin heavy chain gene. The first encodes the phosphate-binding loop; the second, part of the ATP binding site; the third, part of the actin binding site; the fourth, the hinge in the rod; and the fifth, a tailpiece found only in the catch muscle myosin heavy chain. Both Placopecten myosin heavy chains are 96% identical to Argopecten myosin heavy chaina isoforms. Because subfragment-1 ATPase activities reflect the differences observed in the parent myosins, the motor domain is responsible for the variations in ATPase activities. In addition, data show that differences are due to Vmax and not actin affinity. The sequences of all four myosin heavy chain motor domains diverge only in the flexible surface loop near the nucleotide binding pocket. Thus, the different ATPase activities of four molluscan muscle myosins are likely due to myosin heavy chain sequence variations within the flexible surface loop that forms part of the ATP binding pocket of the motor domain.

Pál, G., Szilágyi, L. & Gráf, L.

Stable monomeric form of an originally dimeric serine proteinase inhibitor, ecotin, was constructed via site directed mutagenesis.

FEBS Lett 385, 165-70.

Ecotin, a homodimer protein of E. coli, is a unique member of canonical serine proteinase inhibitors, since it is a potent agent against a variety of serine proteinases having different substrate specificity. Monomers of ecotin are held together mostly by their long C-terminal strands that are arranged as a two-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet in the functional dimer. One ecotin dimer can chelate two proteinase molecules, each of them bound to both subunits of ecotin at two different sites, namely the specific primary and the non-specific secondary binding sites. In this study the genes of wild type ecotin and its Met84Arg P1 site mutant were truncated resulting in new forms of ecotin that lack 10 amino acid residues at their C-terminus. These mutants do not dimerize spontaneously, though in combination with trypsin they assemble into the familiar heterotetramer. Our data suggest that this heterotetramer exists even in extremely diluted solutions, and the interaction, which is responsible for the dimerization of ecotin, contributes to the stability of the heterotetrameric complex.

Málnási-Csizmadia, A. & Sanchez, A.J.

The Schrödinger cat at hand.

Science 273, 859.