Quantifying tetrahedral adduct formation and stabilization in the cysteine and the serine proteases.
Stabilization of an oxyanion transition state is important to catalysis of peptide bond hydrolysis in all proteases. For subtilisin BPN', a bacterial serine protease, structural data suggest that two hydrogen bonds stabilize the tetrahedral-like oxyanion intermediate: one from the main chain NH of Ser221 and another from the side chain NH2 of Asn155. Molecular dynamic studies (Rao, S., N., Singh, U., C. Bush, P. A., and Kollman, P. A. (1987) Nature 328, 551-554) have indicated the gamma-hydroxyl of Thr220 may be a third hydrogen bond donor even though it is 4A away in the static x-ray structure. We have probed the role of Thr220 by replacing it with serine, cysteine, valine, or alanine by site-directed mutagenesis. These substitutions were intended to alter the size and hydrogen bonding ability of residue 220. Removal of the gamma-hydroxyl group reduced the transition state stabilization energy (delta delta GT) by 1.8-2.1 kcal/mol depending upon the substitution. By comparison, removal of the gamma-methyl group in the Thr220 to serine mutation only decreased delta GT by 0.5 kcal/mol. The gamma-hydroxyl of Thr220 is most important for catalysis, not substrate binding, because virtually all of the effects were on kcat and not KM. The role of the Thr220 hydroxyl is functionally independent from the amide NH2 of Asn155 because the free energy effects of double alanine mutants at these two positions are additive. These data indicate that a distal hydrogen bond donor, namely the hydroxyl of Thr220, plays a functionally important role in stabilizing the oxyanion transition state in subtilisin which is independent of Asn155.