Functional comparison of the two Bacillus anthracis glutamate racemases

Dylan Dodd, Joseph G. Reese, Craig R. Louer, Jimmy D. Ballard, M. Ashley Spies, Steven R. Blanke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glutamate racemase activity in Bacillus anthracis is of significant interest with respect to chemotherapeutic drug design, because L-glutamate stereoisomerization to D-glutamate is predicted to be closely associated with peptidoglycan and capsule biosynthesis, which are important for growth and virulence, respectively. In contrast to most bacteria, which harbor a single glutamate racemase gene, the genomic sequence of B. anthracis predicts two genes encoding glutamate racemases, racE1 and racE2. To evaluate whether racE1 and racE2 encode functional glutamate racemases, we cloned and expressed racE1 and racE2 in Escherichia coli. Size exclusion chromatography of the two purified recombinant proteins suggested differences in their quaternary structures, as RacE1 eluted primarily as a monomer, while RacE2 demonstrated characteristics of a higher-order species. Analysis of purified recombinant RacE1 and RacE2 revealed that the two proteins catalyze the reversible stereoisomerization of L-glutamate and D-glutamate with similar, but not identical, steady-state kinetic properties. Analysis of the pH dependence of L-glutamate stereoisomerization suggested that RacE1 and RacE2 both possess two titratable active site residues important for catalysis. Moreover, directed mutagenesis of predicted active site residues resulted in complete attenuation of the enzymatic activities of both RacE1 and RacE2. Homology modeling of RacE1 and RacE2 revealed potential differences within the active site pocket that might affect the design of inhibitory pharmacophores. These results suggest that racE1 and racE2 encode functional glutamate racemases with similar, but not identical, active site features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5265-5275
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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