A critical survey of average distances between catalytic carboxyl groups in glycoside hydrolases

Ndumiso N. Mhlongo, Adam A. Skelton, Gert Kruger, Mahmoud E. S. Soliman, Ian H. Williams

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Published X-ray crystallographic structures for glycoside hydrolases (GHs) from 39 different families are surveyed according to some rigorous selection criteria, and the distances separating 208 pairs of catalytic carboxyl groups (20 α-retaining, 87 β-retaining, 38 α-inverting, and 63 β-inverting) are analyzed. First, the average of all four inter-carboxyl OO distances for each pair is determined; second, the mean of all the pair-averages within each GH family is determined; third, means are determined for groups of GH families. No significant differences are found for free structures compared with those complexed with a ligand in the active site of the enzyme, nor for α-GHs as compared with β-GHs. The mean and standard deviation (1σ) of the unimodal distribution of average OO distances for all families of inverting GHs is 8±2Å, with a very wide range from 5Å (GH82) to nearly 13Å (GH46). The distribution of average OO distances for all families of retaining GHs appears to be bimodal: the means and standard deviations of the two groups are 4.8±0.3Å and 6.4±0.6Å. These average values are more representative, and more likely to be meaningful, than the often-quoted literature values, which are based on a very small sample of structures. The newly-updated average values proposed here may alter perceptions about what separations between catalytic residues are "normal" or "abnormal" for GHs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1747-1755
JournalProteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics
Issue number9
Early online date20 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


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