• fructan 1-exohydrolase (1-FEH IIa);
  • invertase;
  • N-glycosylation;
  • site-directed mutagenesis;
  • substrate binding cleft;
  • substrate specificity


  • • 
    Recently, the three-dimensional structure of chicory (Cichorium intybus) fructan 1-exohydrolase (1-FEH IIa) in complex with its preferential substrate, 1-kestose, was determined. Unfortunately, no such data could be generated with high degree of polymerization (DP) inulin, despite several soaking and cocrystallization attempts.
  • • 
    Here, site-directed mutagenesis data are presented, supporting the presence of an inulin-binding cleft between the N- and C-terminal domains of 1-FEH IIa. In general, enzymes that are unable to degrade high DP inulins contain an N-glycosylation site probably blocking the cleft. By contrast, inulin-degrading enzymes have an open cleft configuration.
  • • 
    An 1-FEH IIa P294N mutant, introducing an N-glycosylation site near the cleft, showed highly decreased activity against higher DP inulin. The introduction of a glycosyl chain most probably blocks the cleft and prevents inulin binding and degradation.
  • • 
    Besides cell wall invertases, fructan 6-exohydrolases (6-FEHs) also contain a glycosyl chain most probably blocking the cleft. Removal of this glycosyl chain by site-directed mutagenesis in Arabidopsis thaliana cell wall invertase 1 and Beta vulgaris 6-FEH resulted in a strong decrease of enzymatic activities of the mutant proteins. By analogy, glycosylation of 1-FEH IIa affected overall enzyme activity. These data strongly suggest that the presence or absence of a glycosyl chain in the cleft is important for the enzyme's stability and optimal conformation.