Biochemical characterization of mutants in the active site residues of the β-galactosidase enzyme of Bacillus circulans ATCC 31382
His-391 of beta-galactosidase (Escherichia coli) was substituted by Phe, Glu, and Lys. Homogeneous preparations of the substituted enzymes were essentially inactive unless very rapid purifications were performed, and the assays were done immediately. The inactive enzymes were tetrameric, just like wild-type beta-galactosidase and their fluorescence spectra were identical to the fluorescence spectrum of wild-type enzyme. Analyses of two of the substituted enzymes that were very rapidly purified to homogeneity and rapidly assayed while they were still active (at only a few substrate concentrations so that the data could be rapidly obtained), showed that the kinetic values were very similar to the values obtained with the same enzymes that were only partially purified. This showed that the kinetics were not affected by the degree of purity and allowed kinetic analyses with partially purified enzymes so that large numbers of points could be used for accuracy. The data showed that His-391 is a very important residue. It interacts strongly with the transition state and promotes catalysis by stabilizing the transition state. Activation energy differences (deltadelta G(S) double dagger), as determined by differences in the kcat/Km values, indicated that substitutions for His-391 caused very large destabilizations (22.8-35.9 kJ/mol) of the transition state. The importance of His-391 for transition state stabilization was confirmed by studies that showed that transition state analogs are very poor inhibitors of the substituted enzymes, while inhibition by substrate analogs was only affected in a small way by substituting for His-391. The poor stabilities of the transition states caused significant decreases of the rates of the glycolytic cleavage steps (galactosylation, k2). Degalactosylation (k3) was not decreased to the same extent.