Crystal structure and mode of action of a class V chitinase from Nicotiana tabacum

Takayuki Ohnuma, Tomoyuki Numata, Takuo Osawa, Mamiko Mizuhara, Kjell M. Vårum, Tamo Fukamizo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A class V chitinase from Nicotiana tabacum (NtChiV) with amino acid sequence similar to that of Serratia marcescens chitinase B (SmChiB) was expressed in E. coli and purified to homogeneity. When N-acetylglucosamine oligosaccharides [(NAG)n] were hydrolyzed by the purified NtChiV, the second glycosidic linkage from the non-reducing end was predominantly hydrolyzed in a manner similar to that of SmChiB. NtChiV was shown to hydrolyze partially N-acetylated chitosan non-processively, whereas SmChiB hydrolyzes the same substrate processively. The crystal structure of NtChiV was determined by the single-wavelength anomalous dispersion method at 1.2Å resolution. The protein adopts a classical (β/α)8-barrel fold (residues 1-233 and 303-348) with an insertion of a small (α + β) domain (residues 234-302). This is the first crystal structure of a plant class V chitinase. The crystal structure of the inactive mutant NtChiV E115Q complexed with (NAG)4 was also solved and exhibited a linear conformation of the bound oligosaccharide occupying -2, +1, +2, and +3 subsites. The complex structure corresponds to an initial state of (NAG)4 binding, which is proposed to be converted into a bent conformation through sliding of the +1, +2, and +3 sugar units to -1, +1, and +2 subsites. Although NtChiV is similar to SmChiB, the chitin-binding domain is present in the C-terminus of the latter, but not in the former. Aromatic amino acid residues found in the substrate binding cleft of SmChiB, including Trp97, are substituted with aliphatic residues in NtChiV. These structural differences appear to be responsible for NtChiV being a non-processive enzyme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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