Despite the structural similarities between cholesterol oxidase from Streptomyces and that from Brevibacterium, both enzymes exhibit different characteristics, such as catalytic activity, optimum pH and temperature. In attempts to define the molecular basis of differences in catalytic activity or stability, substitutions at six amino acid residues were introduced into cholesterol oxidase using site-directed mutagenesis of its gene. The amino acid substitutions chosen were based on structural comparisons of cholesterol oxidases from Streptomyces and Brevibacterium. Seven mutant enzymes were constructed with the following amino acid substitutions: L117P, L119A, L119F, V145Q, Q286R, P357N and S379T. All the mutant enzymes exhibited activity with the exception of that with the L117P mutation. The resulting V145Q mutant enzyme has low activities for all substrates examined and the S379T mutant enzyme showed markedly altered substrate specificity compared with the wild-type enzyme. To evaluate the role of V145 and S379 residues in the reaction, mutants with two additional substitutions in V145 and four in S379 were constructed. The mutant enzymes created by the replacement of V145 by Asp and Glu had much lower catalytic efficiency for cholesterol and pregnenolone as substrates than the wild-type enzyme. From previous studies and this study, the V145 residue seems to be important for the stability and substrate binding of the cholesterol oxidase. In contrast, the catalytic efficiencies (kcat/Km) of the S379T mutant enzyme for cholesterol and pregnenolone were 1.8- and 6.0-fold higher, respectively, than those of the wild-type enzyme. The enhanced catalytic efficiency of the S379T mutant enzyme for pregnenolone was due to a slightly high kcat value and a low Km value. These findings will provide several ideas for the design of more powerful enzymes that can be applied to clinical determination of serum cholesterol levels and as sterol probes.
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