Protein engineering of conger eel galectins by tracing of molecular evolution using probable ancestral mutants
1 Department of Biomolecular Science, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai 981-8555, Japan
2 Nagahama Institute of Bio-Science and Technology and Japan Science and Technology Agency, BioInfomatic Research Division, Nagahama, Shiga 526-0829, Japan
BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:43 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-43Published: 14 February 2010
Conger eel galectins, congerin I (ConI) and congerin II (ConII), show the different molecular characteristics resulting from accelerating evolution. We recently reconstructed a probable ancestral form of congerins, Con-anc. It showed properties similar to those of ConII in terms of thermostability and carbohydrate recognition specificity, although it shares a higher sequence similarity with ConI than ConII.
In this study, we have focused on the different amino acid residues between Con-anc and ConI, and have performed the protein engineering of Con-anc through site-directed mutagenesis, followed by the molecular evolution analysis of the mutants. This approach revealed the functional importance of loop structures of congerins: (1) N- and C-terminal and loop 5 regions that are involved in conferring a high thermostability to ConI; (2) loops 3, 5, and 6 that are responsible for stronger binding of ConI to most sugars; and (3) loops 5 and 6, and Thr38 residue in loop 3 contribute the specificity of ConI toward lacto-N-fucopentaose-containing sugars.
Thus, this methodology, with tracing of the molecular evolution using ancestral mutants, is a powerful tool for the analysis of not only the molecular evolutionary process, but also the structural elements of a protein responsible for its various functions.