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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Functional analyses of the chitin-binding domains and the catalytic domain of Brassica juncea chitinase BjCHI1

Tang CM, Chye ML, Ramalingam S, Ouyang SW, Zhao KJ, Ubhayasekera W, Mowbray SL


We previously isolated a Brassica juncea cDNA encoding BjCHI1, a novel chitinase with two chitin-binding domains. Synthesis of its mRNA is induced by wounding, methyl jasmonate treatment, Aspergillus niger infection and caterpillar (Pieris rapae) feeding, suggesting that the protein has a role in defense. In that it possesses two chitin-binding domains, BjCHI1 resembles the precursor of Urtica dioica agglutinin but unlike that protein, BjCHI1 retains its chitinase catalytic domain after post-translational processing. To explore the properties of multi-domain BjCHI1, we have expressed recombinant BjCHI1 and two derivatives, which lack one (BjCHI2) or both (BjCHI3) chitin-binding domains, as secreted proteins in Pichia pastoris. Recombinant BjCHI1 and BjCHI2 showed apparent molecular masses on SDS-PAGE larger than calculated, and could be deglycosylated using alpha-mannosidase. Recombinant BjCHI3, without the proline/threonine-rich linker region containing predicted O-glycosylation sites, did not appear to be processed by alpha-mannosidase. BjCHI1's ability to agglutinate rabbit erythrocytes is unique among known chitinases. Both chitin-binding domains are essential for agglutination; this property is absent in recombinant BjCHI2 and BjCHI3. To identify potential catalytic residues, we generated site-directed mutations in recombinant BjCHI3. Mutation E212A showed the largest effect, exhibiting 0% of wild-type specific activity. H211N and R361A resulted in considerable (>91%) activity loss, implying these charged residues are also important in catalysis. E234A showed 36% retention of activity and substitution Y269D, 50%. The least affected mutants were E349A and D360A, with 73% and 68% retention, respectively. Like Y269, E349 and D360 are possibly involved in substrate binding rather than catalysis

Published in

Plant Molecular Biology
2004, Volume: 56, number: 2, pages: 285-298

    SLU Authors

    • Ubhayasekera, Wimal

      • Department of Molecular Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Mowbray, Sherry

        • Department of Molecular Biosciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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