The X-ray structure of Aspergillus aculeatus polygalacturonase and a modeled structure of the polygalacturonase-octagalacturonate complex

Sang Woo Cho, Seungho Lee, Whanchul Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Polygalacturonases hydrolyze the α-(1-4) glycosidic bonds of de-esterified pectate in the smooth region of the plant cell wall. Crystal structures of polygalacturonase from Aspergillus aculeatus were determined at pH 4.5 and 8.5 both to 2.0 Å resolution. A. aculeatus polygalacturonase is a glycoprotein with one N and ten O-glycosylation sites and folds into a right-handed parallel β-helix. The structures of the three independent molecules are essentially the same, showing no dependency on pH or crystal packing, and are very similar to that of Aspergillus niger polygalacturonase. However, the structures of the long TI loop containing a catalytic tyrosine residue are significantly different in the two proteins. A three-dimensional model showing the substrate binding mode for a family 28 hydrolase was obtained by a combined approach of flexible docking, molecular dynamics simulations, and energy minimization. The octagalacturonate substrate was modeled as an unbent irregular helix with the -1 ring in a half-chair (4H3) form that approaches the transition state conformation. A comparative modeling of the three polygalacturonases with known structure shows that six subsites ranging from -4 to +2 are clearly defined but subsites -5 and +3 may or may not be shaped depending on the nearby amino acid residues. Both distal subsites are mostly exposed to the solvent region and have weak binding affinity even if they exist. The complex model provides a clear explanation for the functions, either in catalysis or in substrate binding, of all conserved amino acid residues in the polygalacturonase family of proteins. Modeling suggests that the role of the conserved Asn157 and Tyr270, which had previously been unidentified, may be in transition state stabilization. In A. niger polygalacturonase, the long T1 loop may have to undergo conformational change upon binding of the substrate to bring the tyrosine residue close to subsite -1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-878
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 24 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Crystal structure
  • Molecular modeling
  • Parallel β-helix
  • Polygalacturonase
  • Polygalacturonase-octagalacturonate complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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