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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Molecular analysis of hyperthermophilic endoglucanase Cel12B from Thermotoga maritima and the properties of its functional residues

Hao Shi123, Yu Zhang12, Liangliang Wang12, Xun Li12, Wenqian Li123, Fei Wang12* and Xiangqian Li3*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Chemical Engineering, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037, China

2 Jiangsu Key Lab of Biomass-Based Green Fuels and Chemicals, Nanjing 210037, China

3 Department of Life Science and Chemistry, Huaiyin Institute of Technology, Huaian 223003, China

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BMC Structural Biology 2014, 14:8  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-14-8

Published: 17 February 2014



Although many hyperthermophilic endoglucanases have been reported from archaea and bacteria, a complete survey and classification of all sequences in these species from disparate evolutionary groups, and the relationship between their molecular structures and functions are lacking. The completion of several high-quality gene or genome sequencing projects provided us with the unique opportunity to make a complete assessment and thorough comparative analysis of the hyperthermophilic endoglucanases encoded in archaea and bacteria.


Structure alignment of the 19 hyperthermophilic endoglucanases from archaea and bacteria which grow above 80°C revealed that Gly30, Pro63, Pro83, Trp115, Glu131, Met133, Trp135, Trp175, Gly227 and Glu229 are conserved amino acid residues. In addition, the average percentage composition of residues cysteine and histidine of 19 endoglucanases is only 0.28 and 0.74 while it is high in thermophilic or mesophilic one. It can be inferred from the nodes that there is a close relationship among the 19 protein from hyperthermophilic bacteria and archaea based on phylogenetic analysis. Among these conserved amino acid residues, as far as Cel12B concerned, two Glu residues might be the catalytic nucleophile and proton donor, Gly30, Pro63, Pro83 and Gly227 residues might be necessary to the thermostability of protein, and Trp115, Met133, Trp135, Trp175 residues is related to the binding of substrate. Site-directed mutagenesis results reveal that Pro63 and Pro83 contribute to the thermostability of Cel12B and Met133 is confirmed to have role in enhancing the binding of substrate.


The conserved acids have been shown great importance to maintain the structure, thermostability, as well as the similarity of the enzymatic properties of those proteins. We have made clear the function of these conserved amino acid residues in Cel12B protein, which is helpful in analyzing other undetailed molecular structure and transforming them with site directed mutagenesis, as well as providing the theoretical basis for degrading cellulose from woody and herbaceous plants.

Cellulose; Conserved amino acid residues; Endoglucanase; Phylogenetic analysis; Thermostability