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Abstract

Single amino acid substitutions increase the activity and stability of subtilisin E in mixtures of organic solvents and water, and the effects of these mutations are additive. A variant of subtilisin E that exhibits higher activity in mixtures of dimethylformamide (DMF) and water (Q103R) was created by random mutagenesis combined with screening for improved activity (K. Chen and F. H. Arnold, in preparation). Another mutation, N218S, known to improve both the activity and stability of subtilisin BPN′, also improves the activity and stability of subtilisin E in the presence of DMF. The effects of the two substitutions on transition-state stabilization are additive. Furthermore, the Q103R mutation that improves activity has no deleterious effect on subtilisin stability. The double mutant Q103R+N218S is 10 times more active than the wild-type enzyme in 20% (v/v) DMF and twice as stable in 40% DMF. Although the effects of single mutations can be impressive, a practical strategy for engineering enzymes that function in nonaqueous solvents will most likely require multiple changes in the amino acid sequence. These results demonstrate the excellent potential for engineering nonaqueoussolvent-compatible enzymes.