Arginase is a binuclear Mn(2+) -metalloenzyme of urea cycle that hydrolyzes arginine to ornithine and urea. Unlike other arginases, the Helicobacter pylori enzyme is selective for Co(2+) and has all conserved motifs except (88) SSEHA(92) (instead of GGDHS). To examine the role of this motif in the activity and stability, steady-state kinetics, mutational analysis, thermal denaturation, and homology modeling were carried out. With a series of single and double mutants, we show that mutations of Ser88 and Ala92 to its analogous residues in other arginases individually enhance the catalytic activity. This is supported by the modeling studies, where the motif plays a role in alteration at the active site structure compared to other arginases. Mutational analysis further shows that both Glu90 and His91 are important for the activity, as their mutations lead to significant decrease in the catalytic efficiency but they appear to act in two different ways; Glu90 has a more catalytic role as its mutant displays binding of the two metal ions per monomer of the protein, but His91 plays a critical role in retaining the metal ion at the active site as its mutation exhibits a loss of one metal ion. Thermal denaturation studies demonstrated that Ser88 and His91 both play crucial roles in the stability of the protein as their mutants showed a decrease in the T(m) by ∼10-11°. Unlike wild type, the metal ions have larger role in providing the stability to the mutant proteins. Thus, our data demonstrate that the motif not only plays an important role in the activity but also critical in the stability of the protein.
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