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Structure-Function Studies of Serine Hydrolases: Synthesis of a Gene for α-Lytic Protease and the Purification and Characterization of a Mutant β-Lactamase


Perez, Dianne Marie (1988) Structure-Function Studies of Serine Hydrolases: Synthesis of a Gene for α-Lytic Protease and the Purification and Characterization of a Mutant β-Lactamase. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/brjj-5n58.


The author has constructed a synthetic gene for α-lytic protease. Since the DNA sequence of the protein is not known, the gene was designed by using the reverse translation of α-lytic protease's amino acid sequence. Unique restriction sites are carefully sought in the degenerate DNA sequence to aid in future mutagenesis studies. The unique restriction sites are designed approximately 50 base pairs apart and their appropriate codons used in the DNA sequence. The codons used to construct the DNA sequence of α-lytic protease are preferred codons in E. coli or used in the production of β-lactamase. Codon usage is also distributed evenly to ensure that one particular codon is not heavily used. The gene is essentially constructed from the outside in. The gene is built in a stepwise fashion using plasmids as the vehicles for the α-lytic oligomers. The use of plasmids allows the replication and isolation of large quantities of the intermediates during gene synthesis. The α-lytic DNA is a double-stranded oligomer that has sufficient overhang and sticky ends to anneal correctly in the vector. After six steps of incorporating α-lytic DNA, the gene is completed and sequenced to ensure that the correct DNA sequence is present and that no mutations occurred in the structural gene.

β-lactamase is the other serine hydrolase studied in this thesis. The author used the class A RTEM-1 β-lactamase encoded on the plasmid pBR322 to investigate the roll of the conserved threonine residue at position 71. Cassette mutagenesis was previously used to generate all possible amino acid substitutions at position 71. The work presented here describes the purification and kinetic characterization of a T71H mutant previously constructed by S. Schultz. The mutated gene was transferred into plasmid pJN for expression and induced with IPTG. The enzyme is purified by column chromatography and FPLC to homogeneity. Kinetic studies reveal that the mutant has lower kcat values on benzylpenicillin, cephalothin and 6-aminopenicillanic acid but no changes in km except for cephalothin which is approximately 4 times higher. The mutant did not change siginificantly in its pH profile compared to the wild-type enzyme. Also, the mutant is more sensitive to thermal denaturation as compared to the wild-type enzyme. However, experimental evidence indicates that the probable generation of a positive charge at position 71 thermally stabilized the mutant.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Chemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Richards, John H.
Thesis Committee:
  • Campbell, Judith L. (chair)
  • Richards, John H.
  • Dervan, Peter B.
  • Myers, Andrew G.
Defense Date:23 November 1987
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIHGM 07616
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03182013-143408752
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7523
Deposited By: Dan Anguka
Deposited On:19 Mar 2013 20:20
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 22:14

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