Haloalkane dehalogenase converts haloalkanes to their corresponding alcohols. The 3D structure, reaction mechanism and kinetic mechanism have been studied. The steady state k(cat) with 1,2-dichloroethane and 1,2-dibromoethane is limited mainly by the rate of release of the halide ion from the buried active-site cavity. During catalysis, the halogen that is cleaved off (Cl alpha) from 1,2-dichloroethane interacts with Trp125 and the Cl beta interacts with Phe172. Both these residues have van der Waals contacts with Val226. To establish the effect of these interactions on catalysis, and in an attempt to change enzyme activity without directly mutating residues involved in catalysis, we mutated Val226 to Gly, Ala and Leu. The Val226Ala and Val226Leu mutants had a 2.5-fold higher catalytic rate for 1,2-dibromoethane than the wild-type enzyme. A pre-steady state kinetic analysis of the Val226Ala mutant enzyme showed that the increase in k(cat) could be attributed to an increase in the rate of a conformational change that precedes halide release, causing a faster overall rate of halide dissociation. The k(cat) for 1,2-dichloroethane conversion was not elevated, although the rate of chloride release was also faster than in the wild-type enzyme. This was caused by a 3-fold decrease in the rate of formation of the alkyl-enzyme intermediate for 1,2-dichloroethane. Val226 seems to contribute to leaving group (Cl alpha or Br alpha) stabilization via Trp125, and can influence halide release and substrate binding via an interaction with Phe172. These studies indicate that wild-type haloalkane dehalogenase is optimized for 1,2-dichloroethane, although 1,2-dibromoethane is a better substrate.
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