Penicillium griseofulvum xylanase (PgXynA) belongs to family 11 glycoside hydrolase. It exhibits unique amino acid features but its three-dimensional structure is not known. Based upon the X-ray structure of Penicillium funiculosum xylanase (PfXynC), we generated a three-dimensional model of PgXynA by homology modeling. The native structure of PgXynA displayed the overall beta-jelly roll folding common to family 11 xylanases with two large beta-pleated sheets and a single alpha-helix that form a structure resembling a partially closed right hand. Although many features of PgXynA were very similar to previously described enzymes from this family, crucial differences were observed in the loop forming the "thumb" and at the edge of the binding cleft. The robustness of the xylanase was challenged by extensive in silico-based mutagenesis analysis targeting mutations retaining stereochemical and energetical control of the protein folding. On the basis of structural alignments, modeled three-dimensional structure, in silico mutations and docking analysis, we targeted several positions for the replacement of amino acids by site-directed mutagenesis to change substrate and inhibitor specificity, alter pH profile and improve overall catalytic activity. We demonstrated the crucial role played by Ser44(PgXynA) and Ser129(PgXynA), two residues unique to PgXynA, in conferring distinct specificity to P. griseofulvum xylanase. We showed that the pH optimum of PgXynA could be shifted by -1 to +0.5 units by mutating Ser44(PgXynA) to Asp and Asn, respectively. The S44D and S44N mutants showed only slight alteration in K(m) and V(max) whereas a S44A mutant lost both pH-dependence profile and activity. We were able to produce PgXynA S129G mutants with acquired sensitivity to the Xylanase Inhibitor Protein, XIP-I. The replacement of Gln121(PgXynA), located at the start of the thumb, into an Arg residue resulted in an enzyme that possessed a higher catalytic activity.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.