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Circular Permutation Provides an Evolutionary Link between Two Families of Calcium-dependent Carbohydrate Binding Modules

Lookup NU author(s): Cedric Montanier, Dr James Flint, Dr David Bolam, He Fang Xie, Ziyuan Liu, Dr Artur Rogowski, Emeritus Professor Harry Gilbert


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The microbial deconstruction of the plant cell wall is a critical biological process, which also provides important substrates for environmentally sustainable industries. Enzymes that hydrolyze the plant cell wall generally contain non-catalytic carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) that contribute to plant cell wall degradation. Here we report the biochemical properties and crystal structure of a family of CBMs (CBM60) that are located in xylanases. Uniquely, the proteins display broad ligand specificity, targeting xylans, galactans, and cellulose. Some of the CBM60s display enhanced affinity for their ligands through avidity effects mediated by protein dimerization. The crystal structure of vCBM60, displays a beta-sandwich with the ligand binding site comprising a broad cleft formed by the loops connecting the two beta-sheets. Ligand recognition at site 1 is, exclusively, through hydrophobic interactions, whereas binding at site 2 is conferred by polar interactions between a protein-bound calcium and the O2 and O3 of the sugar. The observation, that ligand recognition at site 2 requires only a beta-linked sugar that contains equatorial hydroxyls at C2 and C3, explains the broad ligand specificity displayed by vCBM60. The ligand-binding apparatus of vCBM60 displays remarkable structural conservation with a family 36 CBM (CBM36); however, the residues that contribute to carbohydrate recognition are derived from different regions of the two proteins. Three-dimensional structure-based sequence alignments reveal that CBM36 and CBM60 are related by circular permutation. The biological and evolutionary significance of the mechanism of ligand recognition displayed by family 60 CBMs is discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Montanier C, Flint JE, Bolam DN, Xie HF, Liu ZY, Rogowski A, Weiner DP, Ratnaparkhe S, Nurizzo D, Roberts SM, Turkenburg JP, Davies GJ, Gilbert HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2010

Volume: 285

Issue: 41

Pages: 31742-31754

Print publication date: 21/07/2010

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.142133


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Funder referenceFunder name
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Newcastle University
DE-FG02-09ER16076Department of Energy
IOS-0923992National Science Foundation