Babkova P, Sebestova E, Brezovsky J, Chaloupkova R, Damborsky J, 2017: Ancestral Haloalkane Dehalogenases Show Robustness and Unique Substrate Specificity. ChemBioChem (in press, doi: ). full text.
Ancestral sequence reconstruction (ASR) represents a powerful approach for empirical testing structure-function relationships of diverse proteins. We employed ASR to predict sequences of five ancestral haloalkane dehalogenases (HLDs) from the HLD-II subfamily. Genes encoding the inferred ancestral sequences were synthesized and expressed in Escherichia coli and the resurrected ancestral enzymes AncHLD1-5 were experimentally characterized. Strikingly, the ancestral HLDs exhibited significantly enhanced thermodynamic stability compared to extant enzymes (ΔTm up to 24 °C). Compared to extant HLDs, the ancestors displayed higher specific activities with preference for short multi-substituted halogenated substrates. Moreover, multivariate statistical analysis revealed a shift in the substrate specificity profiles of AncHLD1 and AncHLD2, which would be extremely difficult to achieve by rational protein engineering. The study highlights that ASR is an efficient approach for development of novel biocatalysts and robust templates for directed evolution.