The structure of cyanophycinase in complex with a cyanophycin degradation intermediate.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochim Biophys Acta Gen Subj, Volume 1866, Issue 11, p.130217 (2022)


<p><b>BACKGROUND: </b>Cyanophycinases are serine protease family enzymes which are required for the metabolism of cyanophycin, the natural polymer multi-L-arginyl-poly(L-aspartic acid). Cyanophycinases degrade cyanophycin to β-Asp-Arg dipeptides, which enables use of this important store of fixed nitrogen.</p><p><b>METHODS: </b>We used genetic code expansion to incorporate diaminopropionic acid into cyanophycinase in place of the active site serine, and determined a high-resolution structure of the covalent acyl-enzyme intermediate resulting from attack of cyanophycinase on a short cyanophycin segment.</p><p><b>RESULTS: </b>The structure indicates that cyanophycin dipeptide residues P1 and P1&#39; bind shallow pockets adjacent to the catalytic residues. We observe many cyanophycinase - P1 dipeptide interactions in the co-complex structure. Calorimetry measurements show that at least two cyanophycin dipeptides are needed for high affinity binding to cyanophycinase. We also characterized a putative cyanophycinase which we found to be structurally very similar but that shows no activity and could not be activated by mutation of its active site.</p><p><b>GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: </b>Despite its peptidic structure, cyanophycin is resistant to degradation by peptidases and other proteases. Our results help show how cyanophycinase can specifically bind and degrade this important polymer.</p>