Elucidation of the specific function of the conserved threonine triad responsible for human L-asparaginase autocleavage and substrate hydrolysis.
ABSTRACT: Our long-term goal is the design of a human l-asparaginase (hASNase3) variant, suitable for use in cancer therapy without the immunogenicity problems associated with the currently used bacterial enzymes. Asparaginases catalyze the hydrolysis of the amino acid asparagine to aspartate and ammonia. The key property allowing for the depletion of blood asparagine by bacterial asparaginases is their low micromolar KM value. In contrast, human enzymes have a millimolar KM for asparagine. Toward the goal of engineering an hASNase3 variant with micromolar KM, we conducted a structure/function analysis of the conserved catalytic threonine triad of this human enzyme. As a member of the N-terminal nucleophile family, to become enzymatically active, hASNase3 must undergo autocleavage between residues Gly167 and Thr168. To determine the individual contribution of each of the three conserved active-site threonines (threonine triad Thr168, Thr186, Thr219) for the enzyme-activating autocleavage and asparaginase reactions, we prepared the T168S, T186V and T219A/V mutants. These mutants were tested for their ability to cleave and to catalyze asparagine hydrolysis, in addition to being examined structurally. We also elucidated the first N-terminal nucleophile plant-type asparaginase structure in the covalent intermediate state. Our studies indicate that, while not all triad threonines are required for the cleavage reaction, all are essential for the asparaginase activity. The increased understanding of hASNase3 function resulting from these studies reveals the key regions that govern cleavage and the asparaginase reaction, which may inform the design of variants that attain a low KM for asparagine.
Project description:Asparaginases catalyze the hydrolysis of the amino acid asparagine to aspartate and ammonia. Bacterial asparaginases are used in cancer chemotherapy to deplete asparagine from the blood, because several hematological malignancies depend on extracellular asparagine for growth. To avoid the immune response against the bacterial enzymes, it would be beneficial to replace them with human asparaginases. However, unlike the bacterial asparaginases, the human enzymes have a millimolar K(m) value for asparagine, making them inefficient in depleting the amino acid from blood. To facilitate the development of human variants suitable for therapeutic use, we determined the structure of human l-asparaginase (hASNase3). This asparaginase is an N-terminal nucleophile (Ntn) family member that requires autocleavage between Gly167 and Thr168 to become catalytically competent. For most Ntn hydrolases, this autoproteolytic activation occurs efficiently. In contrast, hASNas3 is relatively stable in its uncleaved state, and this allowed us to observe the structure of the enzyme prior to cleavage. To determine the structure of the cleaved state, we exploited our discovery that the free amino acid glycine promotes complete cleavage of hASNase3. Both enzyme states were elucidated in the absence and presence of the product aspartate. Together, these structures provide insight into the conformational changes required for cleavage and the precise enzyme-substrate interactions. The new understanding of hASNase3 will serve to guide the design of variants that possess a decreased K(m) value for asparagine, making the human enzyme a suitable replacement for the bacterial asparaginases in cancer therapy.
Project description:We investigated whether an uncharacterized protein from guinea pig could be the enzyme behind Kidd's serendipitous discovery, made over 60 years ago, that guinea pig serum has cell killing ability. It has been long known that an enzyme with l-asparaginase activity is responsible for cell killing, although astonishingly, its identity remains unclear. Bacterial asparaginases with similar cell killing properties have since become a mainstay therapy of certain cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. By hydrolyzing asparagine to aspartate and ammonia, these drugs deplete the asparagine present in the blood, killing cancer cells that rely on extracellular asparagine uptake for survival. However, bacterial asparaginases can elicit an adverse immune response. We propose that replacement of bacterial enzymes with the guinea pig asparaginase responsible for serum activity, by its virtue of being more closely related to human enzymes, will be less immunogenic. To this goal, we investigated whether an uncharacterized protein from guinea pig with putative asparaginase activity, which we call gpASNase3, could be that enzyme. We examined its self-activation process (gpASNase3 requires autocleavage to become active), kinetically characterized it for asparaginase and ?-aspartyl dipeptidase activity, and elucidated its crystal structure in both the uncleaved and cleaved states. This work reveals that gpASNase3 is not the enzyme responsible for the antitumor effects of guinea pig serum. It exhibits a low affinity for asparagine as measured by a high Michaelis constant, KM, in the millimolar range, in contrast to the low KM (micromolar range) required for asparaginase to be effective as an anticancer agent.
Project description:L-asparaginase is a chemotherapy drug used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The main prerequisite for clinical efficacy of L-asparaginases is micromolar KM for asparagine to allow for complete depletion of this amino acid in the blood. Since currently approved L-asparaginases are of bacterial origin, immunogenicity is a challenge, which would be mitigated by a human enzyme. However, all human L-asparaginases have millimolar KM for asparagine. We recently identified the low KM guinea pig L-asparaginase (gpASNase1). Because gpASNase1 and human L-asparaginase 1 (hASNase1) share ~70% amino-acid identity, we decided to humanize gpASNase1 by generating chimeras with hASNase1 through DNA shuffling. To identify low KM chimeras we developed a suitable bacterial selection system (E. coli strain BW5?). Transforming BW5? with the shuffling libraries allowed for the identification of several low KM clones. To further humanize these clones, the C-terminal domain of gpASNase1 was replaced with that of hASNase1. Two of the identified clones, 63N-hC and 65N-hC, share respectively 85.7% and 87.1% identity with the hASNase1 but have a KM similar to gpASNase1. These clones possess 100-140 fold enhanced catalytic efficiency compared to hASNase1. Notably, we also show that these highly human-like L-asparaginases maintain their in vitro ALL killing potential.
Project description:Herein we report the bacterial expression, purification, and enzymatic characterization of the human asparaginase-like protein 1 (hASRGL1). We present evidence that hASRGL1 exhibits beta-aspartyl peptidase activity consistent with enzymes designated as plant-type asparaginases, which had thus far been found in only plants and bacteria. Similar to nonmammalian plant-type asparaginases, hASRGL1 is shown to be an Ntn hydrolase for which Thr168 serves as the essential N-terminal nucleophile for intramolecular processing and catalysis, corroborated in part by abolishment of both activities through the Thr168Ala point mutation. In light of the activity profile reported here, ASRGL1s may act synergistically with protein l-isoaspartyl methyl transferase to relieve accumulation of potentially toxic isoaspartyl peptides in mammalian brain and other tissues.
Project description:Human asparaginase 3 (hASNase3), which belongs to the N-terminal nucleophile hydrolase superfamily, is synthesized as a single polypeptide that is devoid of asparaginase activity. Intramolecular autoproteolytic processing releases the amino group of Thr168, a moiety required for catalyzing asparagine hydrolysis. Recombinant hASNase3 purifies as the uncleaved, asparaginase-inactive form and undergoes self-cleavage to the active form at a very slow rate. Here, we show that the free amino acid glycine selectively acts to accelerate hASNase3 cleavage both in vitro and in human cells. Other small amino acids such as alanine, serine, or the substrate asparagine are not capable of promoting autoproteolysis. Crystal structures of hASNase3 in complex with glycine in the uncleaved and cleaved enzyme states reveal the mechanism of glycine-accelerated posttranslational processing and explain why no other amino acid can substitute for glycine.
Project description:The human asparaginase-like protein 1 (hASRGL1) catalyzes the hydrolysis of l-asparagine and isoaspartyl-dipeptides. As an N-terminal nucleophile (Ntn) hydrolase superfamily member, the active form of hASRGL1 is generated by an intramolecular cleavage step with Thr168 as the catalytic residue. However, in vitro, autoprocessing is incomplete (~50%), fettering the biophysical characterization of hASRGL1. We circumvented this obstacle by constructing a circularly permuted hASRGL1 that uncoupled the autoprocessing reaction, allowing us to kinetically and structurally characterize this enzyme and the precursor-like hASRGL1-Thr168Ala variant. Crystallographic and biochemical evidence suggest an activation mechanism where a torsional restraint on the Thr168 side chain helps drive the intramolecular processing reaction. Cleavage and formation of the active site releases the torsional restriction on Thr168, which is facilitated by a small conserved Gly-rich loop near the active site that allows the conformational changes necessary for activation.
Project description:Current FDA-approved l-asparaginases also possess significant l-glutaminase activity, which correlates with many of the toxic side effects of these drugs. Therefore, l-asparaginases with reduced l-glutaminase activity are predicted to be safer. We exploited our recently described structures of the Erwinia chrysanthemi l-asparaginase (ErA) to inform the design of mutants with diminished ability to hydrolyze l-glutamine. Structural analysis of these variants provides insight into the molecular basis for the increased l-asparagine specificity. A primary role is attributed to the E63Q mutation that acts to hinder the correct positioning of l-glutamine but not l-asparagine. The substitution of Ser-254 with either an asparagine or a glutamine increases the l-asparagine specificity but only when combined with the E63Q mutation. The A31I mutation reduces the substrate Km value; this is a key property to allow the required therapeutic l-asparagine depletion. Significantly, an ultra-low l-glutaminase ErA variant maintained its cell killing ability. By diminishing the l-glutaminase activity of these highly active l-asparaginases, our engineered ErA variants hold promise as l-asparaginases with fewer side effects.
Project description:An L-asparaginase (EC 126.96.36.199) specific for L-asparagine has been purified from a marine Chlamydomonas species, the first such enzyme to be purified from a microalga. The purified enzyme (mol.wt. 275 000) possessed a Km for asparagine of 1.34 x 10(-4) M and showed limited antitumour activity in an antilymphoma assay in vivo. Properties of the enzyme are contrasted with those of asparaginases from prokaryotic and eukaryotic sources.
Project description:BACKGROUND:L-asparaginase has been used as a chemotherapeutic agent in treatment of lymphoblastic leukemia. In the present investigation, Bacillus sp. PG03 and Bacillus sp. PG04 were studied. METHODS:L- asparaginases were produced using different culture media and were purified using ion exchange chromatography. RESULTS:Maximum productivity was obtained when asparagine was used as the nitrogen source at pH 7 and 48 h after cultivation. New intracellular L-asparaginases showed an apparent molecular weight of 25 kDa and 30 kDa by SDS-PAGE respectively. These enzymes were active in a wide pH range (3-9) with maximum activity at pH 6 for Bacillus PG03 and pH 7 for Bacillus PG04 L-asparaginase. Bacillus PG03 enzyme was optimally active at 37 ?C and Bacillus PG04 maximum activity was observed at 40?C. Kinetic parameters km and Vmax of both enzymes were studied using L-asparagine as the substrate. Thermal inactivation studies of Bacillus PG03 and Bacillus PG04 L-asparaginase exhibited t1/2 of 69.3 min and 34.6 min in 37 ?C respectively. Also T50 and ?G of inactivation were measured for both enzymes. CONCLUSION:The results revealed that both enzymes had appropriate characteristics and thus could be a potential candidate for medical applications.
Project description:Bacterial L-asparaginases have been used as anti-cancer drugs for over 4 decades though presenting, along with their therapeutic efficacy, several side effects due to their bacterial origin and, seemingly, to their secondary glutaminase activity. Helicobacter pylori type II L-asparaginase possesses interesting features, among which a reduced catalytic efficiency for L-GLN, compared to the drugs presently used in therapy. In the present study, we describe some enzyme variants with catalytic and in vitro cytotoxic activities different from the wild type enzyme. Particularly, replacements on catalytic threonines (T16D and T95E) deplete the enzyme of both its catalytic activities, once more underlining the essential role of such residues. One serendipitous mutant, M121C/T169M, had a preserved efficiency vs L-asparagine but was completely unable to carry out L-glutamine hydrolysis. Interestingly, this variant did not exert any cytotoxic effect on HL-60 cells. The M121C and T169M single mutants had reduced catalytic activities (nearly 2.5- to 4-fold vs wild type enzyme, respectively). Mutant Q63E, endowed with a similar catalytic efficiency versus asparagine and halved glutaminase efficiency with respect to the wild type enzyme, was able to exert a cytotoxic effect comparable to, or higher than, the one of the wild type enzyme when similar asparaginase units were used. These findings may be relevant to determine the role of glutaminase activity of L-asparaginase in the anti-proliferative effect of the drug and to shed light on how to engineer the best asparaginase/glutaminase combination for an ever improved, patients-tailored therapy.