Structure of an aliphatic amidase from Geobacillus pallidus RAPc8

20 Sep 2010

The amidase from Geobacillus pallidus RAPc8, a moderate thermophile, is a member of the nitrilase superfamily and catalyzes the conversion of amides to the corresponding carboxylic acids and ammonia. It shows both amide-hydrolysis and acyl-transfer activities and also exhibits stereoselectivity for some enantiomeric substrates, thus making it a potentially important industrial catalyst. The crystal structure of G. pallidus RAPc8 amidase at a resolution of 1.9 A ˚ was solved by molecular replacement from a crystal belonging to the primitive cubic space group P4232. G. pallidus RAPc8 amidase is homohexameric in solution and its monomers have the typical nitrilase-superfamily α-β-β-α fold. Association in the hexamer preserves the eight-layered α-β-β-α:α-β-β-α structure across an interface which is conserved in the known members of the superfamily. The extended carboxy-terminal tail contributes to this conserved interface by interlocking the monomers. Analysis of the small active site of the G. pallidus RAPc8 amidase suggests that access of a water molecule to the catalytic triad (Cys, Glu, Lys) side chains would be impeded by the formation of the acyl intermediate. It is proposed that another active-site residue, Glu142, the position of which is conserved in the homologues, acts as a general base to catalyse the hydrolysis of this intermediate. The small size of the substrate-binding pocket also explains the specificity of this enzyme for short aliphatic amides and its asymmetry explains its enantioselectivity.