Three-dimensional structures of two heavily N-glycosylated Aspergillus sp. family GH3 β-D-glucosidases

Jon Agirre, Antonio Ariza, Wendy A. Offen, Johan P. Turkenburg, Shirley M. Roberts, Stuart McNicholas, Paul V. Harris, Brett McBrayer, Jan Dohnalek, Kevin D. Cowtan, Gideon J. Davies, Keith S. Wilson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The industrial conversion of cellulosic plant biomass into useful products such as biofuels is a major societal goal. These technologies harness diverse plant degrading enzymes, classical exo- and endo-acting cellulases and, increasingly, cellulose-active lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases, to deconstruct the recalcitrant β-D-linked polysaccharide. A major drawback with this process is that the exo-acting cellobiohydrolases suffer from severe inhibition from their cellobiose product. β-D-Glucosidases are therefore important for liberating glucose from cellobiose and thereby relieving limiting product inhibition. Here, the three-dimensional structures of two industrially important family GH3 β-D-glucosidases from it Aspergillus fumigatus and it A. oryzae, solved by molecular replacement and refined at 1.95Å resolution, are reported. Both enzymes, which share 78% sequence identity, display a three-domain structure with the catalytic domain at the interface, as originally shown for barley β-D-glucan exohydrolase, the first three-dimensional structure solved from glycoside hydrolase family GH3. Both enzymes show extensive N-glycosylation, with only a few external sites being truncated to a single GlcNAc molecule. Those glycans N-linked to the core of the structure are identified purely as high-mannose trees, and establish multiple hydrogen bonds between their sugar components and adjacent protein side chains. The extensive glycans pose special problems for crystallographic refinement, and new techniques and protocols were developed especially for this work. These protocols ensured that all of the D-pyranosides in the glycosylation trees were modelled in the preferred minimum-energy 4C1 chair conformation and should be of general application to refinements of other crystal structures containing O- or N-glycosylation. The it Aspergillus GH3 structures, in light of other recent three-dimensional structures, provide insight into fungal β-D-glucosidases and provide a platform on which to inform and inspire new generations of variant enzymes for industrial application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-265
Number of pages12
JournalActa crystallographica. Section D, Structural biology
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

This content is made available by the publisher under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. This means that a user may copy, distribute and display the resource providing that they give credit. Users must adhere to the terms of the licence. Date of Acceptance: 16/12/2015


  • cellulose degradation, biofuels, glucosidase, N-glycan, glycoblocks

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