Proteins with great sequence similarity usually have similar structure, function and other physicochemical properties. But in many cases, one or more of the physicochemical or functional characteristics differ, sometimes very considerably, among these homologous proteins. To better understand how critical amino acids determine quantitative properties of function in proteins, the responsible residues must be located and identified. This can be difficult to achieve, particularly in cases where multiple amino acids are involved. In this work, two triosephosphate isomerases with very high similarity from two related human parasites were used to address one such problem. We demonstrate that a seventy-fold difference in the reactivity of an interface cysteine to the sulfhydryl reagent methylmethane sulfonate in these two enzymes depends on three amino acids located far away from this critical residue and which could not have been predicted using other current methods. Starting from previous observations with chimeric proteins involving these two triosephosphate isomerases, we developed a strategy involving additive mutant enzymes and selected site directed mutants to locate and identify the three amino acids. These three residues seem to induce changes in the interface cysteine in reactivity by increasing (or decreasing) its apparent pKa. Some enzymes with four to seven mutations also exhibited altered reactivity. This study completes a strategy for identifying key residues in the sequences of proteins that can have applications in future protein structure-function studies.
Díaz-Mazariegos, S., Cabrera, N., & Perez-Montfort, R. (2018). Three unrelated and unexpected amino acids determine the susceptibility of the interface cysteine to a sulfhydryl reagent in the triosephosphate isomerases of two trypanosomes. PLoS ONE, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189525