O-GlcNAcase is a family 84 beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase catalyzing the hydrolytic cleavage of beta-O-linked 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-glycopyranose (O-GlcNAc) from serine and threonine residues of posttranslationally modified proteins. O-GlcNAcases use a double-displacement mechanism involving formation and breakdown of a transient bicyclic oxazoline intermediate. The key catalytic residues of any family 84 enzyme facilitating this reaction, however, are unknown. Two mutants of human O-GlcNAcase, D174A and D175A, were generated since these residues are highly conserved among family 84 glycoside hydrolases. Structure-reactivity studies of the D174A mutant enzyme reveals severely impaired catalytic activity across a broad range of substrates alongside a pH-activity profile consistent with deletion of a key catalytic residue. The D175A mutant enzyme shows a significant decrease in catalytic efficiency with substrates bearing poor leaving groups (up to 3000-fold), while for substates bearing good leading groups the difference is much smaller (7-fold). This mutant enzyme also cleaves thioglycosides with essentially the same catalytic efficiency as the wild-type enzyme. As well, addition of azide as an exogenous nucleophile increases the activity of this enzyme toward a substrate bearing an excellent leaving group. Together, these results allow unambiguous assignment of Asp(174) as the residue that polarizes the 2-acetamido group for attack on the anomeric center and Asp(175) as the residue that functions as the general acid/base catalyst. Therefore, the family 84 glycoside hydrolases use a DD catalytic pair to effect catalysis.

Source: Cetinbas, N., Macauley, M.S., Stubbs, K.A., Drapala, R. & Vocadlo, D.J. Biochemistry 45, 3835-44 (2006).