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Keywords:

  • sucrose isomerase;
  • Rhizobium sp.;
  • isomaltulose;
  • trehalulose

Sucrose isomerase is an enzyme that catalyzes the production of sucrose isomers of high biotechnological and pharmaceutical interest. Owing to the complexity of the chemical synthesis of these isomers, isomaltulose and trehalulose, enzymatic conversion remains the preferred method for obtaining these products. Depending on the microbial source, the ratio of the sucrose-isomer products varies significantly. In studies aimed at understanding and explaining the underlying molecular mechanisms of these reactions, mutations obtained using a random-mutagenesis approach displayed a major hydrolytic activity. Two of these variants, R284C and F164L, of sucrose isomerase from Rhizobium sp. were therefore crystallized and their crystal structures were determined. The three-dimensional structures of these mutants allowed the identification of the molecular determinants that favour hydrolytic activity compared with transferase activity. Substantial conformational changes resulting in an active-site opening were observed, as were changes in the pattern of water molecules bordering the active-site region.