Atomic resolution structures of trypsin acyl-enzymes and a tetrahedral intermediate analog, along with previously solved structures representing the Michaelis complex, are used to reconstruct events in the catalytic cycle of this classic serine protease. Structural comparisons provide insight into active site adjustments involved in catalysis. Subtle motions of the catalytic serine and histidine residues coordinated with translation of the substrate reaction center are seen to favor the forward progress of the acylation reaction. The structures also clarify the attack trajectory of the hydrolytic water in the deacylation reaction.
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