The enzymatic digestion of cellulose entails intimate involvement of cellobiohydrolases, whose characteristic active-center tunnel contributes to a processive degradation of the polysaccharide. The cellobiohydrolase Cel6A displays an active site within a tunnel formed by two extended loops, which are known to open and close in response to ligand binding. Here we present five structures of wild-type and mutant forms of Cel6A from Humicola insolens in complex with nonhydrolyzable thio-oligosaccharides, at resolutions from 1.7-1.1 Angstrom, dissecting the structural accommodation of a processing substrate chain through the active center during hydrolysis. Movement of ligand is facilitated by extensive solvent-mediated interactions and through flexibility in the hydrophobic surfaces provided by a sheath of tryptophan residues.
- 3-DIMENSIONAL STRUCTURE