Exploring the Binding Sites of the Haloalkane Dehalogenase DhlA from Xanthobacter autotrophicus GJ10


Silberstein, M., Damborsky, J., Vajda, S.


BIOCHEMISTRY 46: 9239-9249 (2007)


The catalytic site of haloalkane dehalogenase DhlA is buried more than 10 A from the protein surface. While potential access channels to this site have been reported, the precise mechanism of substrate import and product export is still unconfirmed. We use computational methods to examine surface pockets and their putative roles in ligand access to and from the catalytic site. Computational solvent mapping moves small organic molecules “probes” over the protein surface in order to identify energetically favorable sites, i.e., regions that tend to bind a variety of molecules. The mapping of three DhlA structures identifies seven such regions, some of which have been previously suggested to be involved in the binding and the import/export of substrates or products. These sites are the active site, the putative entrance of the channel leading to the active site, two pockets that bind Br- ions, a pocket in the slot region, and two additional sites between the main domain and the cap of DhlA. We also performed mapping and free energy analysis of the DhlA structures using the substrate, 1,2-dichloroethane, and halide ions as probes. The findings were compared to crystallographic data and to results obtained by CAVER, a program developed for finding routes from protein clefts and cavities to the surface. Solvent mapping precisely reproduced all three Br- binding sites identified by protein crystallography and the openings to four channels found by CAVER. The analyses suggest that: (i) the active site has the highest affinity for the substrate molecule, (ii) the substrate initially binds at the entrance of the main tunnel, (iii) the site Br2, close to the entrance, is likely to serve as an intermediate binding site in product export, (iv) the site Br3, induced in the structure at high concentrations of Br-, could be part of an auxiliary route for product release and (v) three of the identified sites are likely to be entrances of water access channels leading to the active site. For comparison we also mapped haloalkane dehalogenases DhaA and LinB, both of which contain significantly larger and more solvent accessible binding sites than DhlA. The mapping of DhaA and LinB places the majority of probes in the active site, but most of the other six regions consistently identified in DhlA were not observed, suggesting that the more open active site eliminates the need for intermediate binding sites for the collision complex seen in DhlA.

Full text


Silberstein, M., Damborsky, J., Vajda, S., 2007: Exploring the Binding Sites of the Haloalkane Dehalogenase DhlA from Xanthobacter autotrophicus GJ10. Biochemistry 46: 9239-9249.

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