Directed evolution of a lysosomal enzyme with enhanced activity at neutral pH by mammalian cell-surface display

Chem Biol. 2008 Dec 22;15(12):1277-86. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.10.008.


Human beta-glucuronidase, due to low intrinsic immunogenicity in humans, is an attractive enzyme for tumor-specific prodrug activation, but its utility is hindered by low activity at physiological pH. Here we describe the development of a high-throughput screening procedure for enzymatic activity based on the stable retention of fluorescent reaction product in mammalian cells expressing properly folded glycoproteins on their surface. We utilized this procedure on error-prone PCR and saturation mutagenesis libraries to isolate beta-glucuronidase tetramers that were up to 60-fold more active (k(cat)/K(m)) at pH 7.0 and were up to an order of magnitude more effective at catalyzing the conversion of two structurally disparate glucuronide prodrugs to anticancer agents. The screening procedure described here can facilitate investigation of eukaryotic enzymes requiring posttranslational modifications for biological activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Variation
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Glucuronidase / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lysosomes / enzymology*
  • Lysosomes / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Prodrugs / metabolism
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Up-Regulation


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Prodrugs
  • Glucuronidase