Norrgård MA, Hellman U, Mannervik B
J. Biol. Chem. 286 (19) 16871-16878 [2011-05-13; online 2011-04-02]
We propose Cys-X scanning as a semisynthetic approach to engineer the functional properties of recombinant proteins. As in the case of Ala scanning, key residues in the primary structure are identified, and one of them is replaced by Cys via site-directed mutagenesis. The thiol of the residue introduced is subsequently modified by alternative chemical reagents to yield diverse Cys-X mutants of the protein. This chemical approach is orthogonal to Ala or Cys scanning and allows the expansion of the repertoire of amino acid side chains far beyond those present in natural proteins. In its present application, we have introduced Cys-X residues in human glutathione transferase (GST) M2-2, replacing Met-212 in the substrate-binding site. To achieve selectivity of the modifications, the Cys residues in the wild-type enzyme were replaced by Ala. A suite of simple substitutions resulted in a set of homologous Met derivatives ranging from normethionine to S-heptyl-cysteine. The chemical modifications were validated by HPLC and mass spectrometry. The derivatized mutant enzymes were assayed with alternative GST substrates representing diverse chemical reactions: aromatic substitution, epoxide opening, transnitrosylation, and addition to an ortho-quinone. The Cys substitutions had different effects on the alternative substrates and differentially enhanced or suppressed catalytic activities depending on both the Cys-X substitution and the substrate assayed. As a consequence, the enzyme specificity profile could be changed among the alternative substrates. The procedure lends itself to large-scale production of Cys-X modified protein variants.