Indexed on: 01 May '07Published on: 01 May '07Published in: FEBS Journal
A bioinformatic screening of the genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Thermotoga maritima for ester-hydrolyzing enzymes revealed a protein with typical esterase motifs, though annotated as a hypothetical protein. To confirm its putative esterase function the gene (estD) was cloned, functionally expressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. Recombinant EstD was found to exhibit significant esterase activity with a preference for short acyl chain esters (C4-C8). The monomeric enzyme has a molecular mass of 44.5 kDa and optimal activity around 95 degrees C and at pH 7. Its thermostability is relatively high with a half-life of 1 h at 100 degrees C, but less stable compared to some other hyperthermophilic esterases. A structural model was constructed with the carboxylesterase Est30 from Geobacillus stearothermophilus as a template. The model covered most of the C-terminal part of EstD. The structure showed an alpha/beta-hydrolase fold and indicated the presence of a typical catalytic triad consisting of a serine, aspartate and histidine, which was verified by site-directed mutagenesis and inhibition studies. Phylogenetic analysis showed that EstD is only distantly related to other esterases. A comparison of the active site pentapeptide motifs revealed that EstD should be grouped into a new family of esterases (Family 10). EstD is the first characterized member of this family.