It is shown by rational site-directed mutagenesis of the lid region in Thermomyces lanuginosus lipase that it is possible to generate lipase variants with attractive features, e.g., high lipase activity, fast activation at the lipid interface, ability to act on water-soluble substrates, and enhanced calcium independence. The rational design was based on the lid residue composition in Aspergillus niger ferulic acid esterase (FAEA). Five constructs included lipase variants containing the full FAEA lid, a FAEA-like lid, an intermediate lid of FAEA and TlL character, and the entire lid region from Aspergillus terreus lipase (AtL). To investigate an altered activation mechanism for each variant compared to that of TlL, a combination of activity- and spectroscopic-based measurements were applied. The engineered variant with a lid from AtL displayed interfacial activation comparable to that of TlL, whereas variants with FAEA lid character showed interfacial activation independence with pronounced activity toward pNP-acetate and pNP-butyrate below the critical micelle concentration. For variants with lipase and esterase character, lipase activity measurements further indicated a faster activation at the lipid interface. Relative to their activity toward pNP-ester substrates in calcium-rich buffer, all lid variants retained between 15 and 100% activity in buffer containing 5 mM EDTA whereas TlL activity was reduced to less than 2%, demonstrating the lid's central role in governing calcium dependency. For FAEA-like lid variants, accessible hydrophobic surface area measurements showed an approximate 10-fold increase in the level of binding of extrinsic fluorophores to the protein surface relative to that of TlL accompanied by a blue shift in emission indicative of an open lid in aqueous solution. Together, these studies report on the successful alteration of the activation mechanism in TlL by rational design creating novel lipases with new, intriguing functionalities.
Biochemistry, 2014, Vol 53, Issue 25, p. 4152-4160