Converting a β-N-acetylhexosaminidase into two trans-β-N-acetylhexosaminidases by domain-targeted mutagenesis

Xiaodi Chen, Lan Jin, Xukai Jiang, Longcheng Guo, Guofeng Gu, Li Xu, Lili Lu, Fengshan Wang, Min Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We have recently derived a β-N-acetylhexosaminidase, BbhI, from Bifidobacterium bifidum JCM 1254, which could regioselectively synthesize GlcNAcβ1-3Galβ1-4Glc with a yield of 44.9%. Here, directed evolution of BbhI by domain-targeted mutagenesis was carried out. Firstly, the GH20 domain was selected for random mutagenesis using MEGAWHOP method and a small library of 1300 clones was created. A total of 734 colonies with reduced hydrolytic activity were isolated, and three mutants with elevated transglycosylation yields, GlcNAcβ1-3Galβ1-4Glc yields of 68.5%, 74.7%, and 81.1%, respectively, were obtained. Subsequently, nineteen independent mutants were constructed according to all the mutation sites in these three mutants. After transglycosylation analysis, Asp714 and Trp773 were identified as key residues for improvement in transglycosylation ability and were chosen for the second round of directed evolution by site-saturation mutagenesis. Two most efficient mutants D714T and W773R that acted as trans-β-N-acetylhexosaminidase were finally achieved. D714T with the substitution at the putative nucleophile assistant residue Asp714 by threonine showed high yield of 84.7% with unobserved hydrolysis towards transglycosylation product. W773R with arginine substitution at Trp773 residue locating at the entrance of catalytic cavity led to the yield up to 81.8%. The kcat/Km values of D714T and W773R for hydrolysis of pNP-β-GlcNAc displayed drastic decreases. NMR investigation of protein–substrate interaction revealed an invariable mode of the catalytic cavity of D714T, W773R, and WT BbhI. The collective motions of protein model showed the mutations Thr714 and Arg773 exerted little effect on the dynamics of the inside but a large effect on the dynamics of the outside of catalytic cavity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-673
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Directed evolution
  • Domain-targeted mutagenesis
  • Trans-β-N-acetylhexosaminidase
  • β-N-Acetylhexosaminidase

Cite this