This study was undertaken to characterize the effect of three point mutations made on aprA-subtilisin on the stability of the protein to both heat- and detergent-induced denaturation. Asparagine residues at positions 109 and 218 were replaced with serine residues to prevent the possible cyclization between these asparagines and the adjacent glycine residues and hence to increase the long-term stability. The effect of these substitutions on conformational stability was examined by thermal denaturation. At high calcium concentrations, the Ser109-substituted analog showed a 3 degrees C higher transition temperature than that of aprA-subtilisin, while the Ser218 substituted analog had a 4 degrees C higher transition temperature. The analog with both changes had a 7 degrees C higher transition temperature than that of the original aprA-subtilisin, indicating that the contributions of the individual mutations were additive. The analog with both mutations also exhibited increased stability in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) when compared to aprA-subtilisin. In addition to the above two mutations, the asparagine at position 76, located in the high affinity Ca(2+) binding loop of subtilisin, was changed to aspartic acid. The effect of this mutation on the thermal stability of the protein was examined at different calcium concentrations. The analog with all three mutations exhibited little dependence on calcium concentration below 1 mM levels, while the proteins without the mutation at asparagine-76 displayed a strong dependence of melting temperature on Ca(2+) concentration in this range. At much higher calcium concentrations, the analog with three mutations showed an increase in stability similar to that observed with aprA-subtilisin. The analog with three mutations also exhibited greater stability to SDS-induced denaturation than both aprA-subtilisin and the Ser109- and Ser218-substituted analogs. The activation energy barrier for loss of structure in 1% SDS for the analog with all three mutations was increased over that for aprA-subtilisin by 16 kcal/ml. These results suggest that the mutation of asparagine-76 to aspartic acid increases the affinity of the primary Ca(2+) binding site.