Catalysis in the nitrilase superfamily

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2002 Dec;12(6):775-82. doi: 10.1016/s0959-440x(02)00387-1.


Recently, we defined the nitrilase superfamily as consisting of 12 families of amidases, N-acyltransferases and presumptive amidases, in addition to the family of plant and bacterial nitrilases for which the superfamily was named. A novel Glu-Lys-Cys catalytic triad, found at the crystallographically defined Nit active site of worm NitFhit, was postulated to constitute the catalytic residues for all members of the superfamily. Recent experimental results confirm the essentiality of the catalytic triad residues and specify the biochemical functions of additional branches and sub-branches of the nitrilase superfamily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminohydrolases / chemistry
  • Aminohydrolases / classification
  • Aminohydrolases / genetics
  • Aminohydrolases / metabolism*
  • Catalysis
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Multigene Family
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Conformation
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Aminohydrolases
  • nitrilase