Roles of Tyr<sup>13</sup> and Phe<sup>219</sup> in the Unique Substrate Specificity of Pepsin B<sup>†</sup>

2006-12-05T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Takashi Kageyama
Pepsin B is known to be distributed throughout mammalia, including carnivores. In this study, the proteolytic specificity of canine pepsin B was clarified with 2 protein substrates and 37 synthetic octapeptides and compared with that of human pepsin A. Pepsin B efficiently hydrolyzed gelatin but very poorly hydrolized hemoglobin. It was active against only a group of octapeptides with Gly at P2, such as KPAGF↓LRL and KPEGF↓LRL (arrows indicate cleavage sites). In contrast, pepsin A hydrolyzed hemoglobin but not gelatin and showed high activity against various types of octapeptides, such as KPAEF↓FRL and KPAEF↓LRL. The specificity of pepsin B is unique among pepsins, and thus, the enzyme provides a suitable model for analyzing the structure and function of pepsins and related aspartic proteinases. Because Tyr<sup>13</sup> and Phe<sup>219</sup> in/around the S2 subsites (Glu/Ala<sup>13</sup> and Ser<sup>219</sup> are common in most pepsins) appeared to be involved in the specificity of pepsin B, site-directed mutagenesis was undertaken to replace large aromatic residues with small residues and vice versa. The Tyr<sup>13</sup>Ala/Phe<sup>219</sup>Ser double mutant of pepsin B was found to demonstrate broad activity against hemoglobin and various octapeptides, whereas the reverse mutant of pepsin A had significantly decreased activity. According to molecular modeling of pepsin B, Tyr<sup>13</sup> OH narrows the substrate-binding space and a peptide with Gly at P2 might be preferentially accommodated because of its high flexibility. The hydroxyl can also make a hydrogen bond with nitrogen of a P3 residue and fix the substrate main chain to the active site, thus restricting the flexibility of the main chain and strengthening preferential accommodation of Gly at P2. The phenyl moiety of Phe<sup>219</sup> is bulky and narrows the S2 substrate space, which also leads to a preference for Gly at P2, while lowering the catalytic activity against other peptide types without making a hydrogen-bonding network in the active site.