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Mechanism of the human nucleocytoplasmic hexosaminidase D

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Matthew G Alteen, Verena Oehler, Ivana Nemčovičová, Iain B H Wilson, David J Vacadlo, Tracey Maureen Gloster

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Mammalian β-hexosaminidases have emerged as playing essential roles in cellular physiology and health. These enzymes are responsible for the cleavage of the monosaccharides N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) and N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) from cellular substrates. One of these β-hexosaminidases, Hexosaminidase D (HexD), encoded by the HEXDC gene, has received little attention. No mechanistic studies have focused on the role of this unusual nucleocytoplasmically localized β-hexosaminidase and its cellular function remains unknown. Using a series of kinetic and mechanistic investigations into HexD we define the precise catalytic mechanism of this enzyme and establish the identities of key enzymic residues. The preparation of synthetic aryl N-acetylgalactosaminide substrates for HexD in combination with measurements of kinetic parameters for wild type and mutant enzymes, linear free energy analyses of the enzyme catalyzed hydrolysis of these substrates, evaluation of the reaction by nuclear magnetic resonance, and inhibition studies, collectively reveal the detailed mechanism of action employed by HexD. HexD is a retaining glycosidase that operates using a substrate-assisted catalytic mechanism, has a preference for galactosaminide over glucosaminide substrates, and shows a pH optimum in its second order rate constant at pH 6.5-7.0. The catalytically important residues are Asp148 and Glu149, with Glu149 serving as the general acid/base residue and Asp148 as the polarizing residue. HexD is inhibited by Gal-NAG-thiazoline (Ki of 420 nM). The fundamental insights gained from this study will aid in the development of potent and selective probes for HexD, which will serve as useful tools to better understand the physiological role played by this unusual enzyme.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2753-2747
Issue number19
Early online date5 May 2016
StatePublished - 17 May 2016

    Research areas

  • Hexosaminidase, Glycoside hydrolase, Enzyme kinetics, Enzyme mechanism, Enzyme inhibition, Substrate-assisted catalysis

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