Four glutamate residues in the prototypic γ-class carbonic anhydrase from Methanosarcina thermophila (Cam) were characterized by site-directed mutagenesis and chemical rescue studies. Alanine substitution indicated that an external loop residue, Glu 84, and an internal active site residue, Glu 62, are both important for CO2 hydration activity. Two other external loop residues, Glu 88 and Glu 89, are less important for enzyme function. The two E84D and -H variants exhibited significant activity relative to wild-type activity in pH 7.5 MOPS buffer, suggesting that the original glutamate residue could be substituted with other ionizable residues with similar pK(a) values. The E84A, -C, -K, -Q, -S, and -Y variants exhibited large decreases in k(cat) values in pH 7.5 MOPS buffer, but only exhibited small changes in k(cat)/K(m). These same six variants were all chemically rescued by pH 7.5 imidazole buffer, with 23-46-fold increases in the apparent k(cat). These results are consistent with Glu 84 functioning as a proton shuttle residue. The E62D variant exhibited a 3-fold decrease in k(cat) and a 2-fold decrease in k(cat)/Km relative to those of the wild type in pH 7.5 MOPS buffer, while other substitutions (E62A, -C, -H, -Q, -T, and -Y) resulted in much larger decreases in both k(cat) and k(cat)/Km. Imidazole did not significantly increase the k(cat) values and slightly decreased the k(cat)/Km values of most of the Glu 62 variants. These results indicate a primary preference for a carboxylate group at position 62, and support a proposed catalytic role for residue Glu 62 in the CO2 hydration step, but do not definitively establish its role in the proton transport step.
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