Role of induced fit in enzyme specificity: a molecular forward/reverse switch

J Biol Chem. 2008 Sep 26;283(39):26297-301. doi: 10.1074/jbc.R800034200. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


Enzyme structures solved with and without bound substrate often show that substrate-induced conformational changes bring catalytic residues into alignment, alter the local environment, and position the substrate for catalysis. Although the structural data are compelling, the role of conformational changes in enzyme specificity has been controversial in that specificity is a kinetic property that is not easy to predict based upon structure alone. Recent studies on DNA polymerization have illuminated the role of substrate-induced conformational changes in enzyme specificity by showing that the rate at which the enzyme opens to release the bound substrate is a key kinetic parameter. The slow release of a correct substrate commits it to the forward reaction so that specificity is determined solely by the rate of substrate binding, including the isomerization step, and not by the slower rate of the chemical reaction. In contrast, fast dissociation of an incorrect substrate favors release rather than reaction. Thus, the conformational change acts as a molecular switch to select the right substrate and to recognize and disfavor the reaction of an incorrect substrate. A conformational switch may also favor release rather than reverse reaction of the product.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophage T7 / enzymology*
  • DNA Replication / physiology*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Substrate Specificity / physiology
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*


  • Viral Proteins
  • bacteriophage T7 induced DNA polymerase
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase