In the most active design for stereoselective bimolecular Diels-Alder reaction, the theozyme was grafted on a six bladed β-propeller scaffold (PDB id: 1E1A), the active site pocket of which was tightly filled by hydrophobic residues [ 31]. As nonspecific hydrophobic pockets did not catalyze the reaction, activity was not due to medium effect. Instead, close packing ensured the right orientation of the functional groups, in accord
with their sensitivity to mutations back to the original scaffold. An active retro-aldolase design employed a TIM barrel scaffold, where a hydrophobic pocket interacted with the aromatic part of the substrate [32••]. Applying a more diverse rotamer library for screening optimized the packing at the active site, which resulted in ∼10 fold improvement in kcat [ 33]. Hydrophobic AG14699 residues contributed Selleck ERK inhibitor to only ∼10 fold rate acceleration in RA61 retro-aldolase design via medium effect, by shifting the pKa of the Schiff-base lysine residue [ 34]. Packing also influenced the hydrogen-bonding network, which positioned the active site water molecules [ 32••]. In accord, simultaneous mutation of water coordinating residues caused almost 103 fold drop in catalytic activity [ 23]. In underpacked cases these water molecules remain rather mobile and decrease the preorganization of the enzymatic environment. Hence including a water-mediated hydrogen bond in retro-aldolase
designs with a catalytic His-Asp dyad increased the number of active variants [ 32••]. These observations illustrate that tighter
packing is not necessarily required for desolvation, instead it optimizes polar, preorganized environment. The low activity of the enzyme designs Molecular motor in various cases is due to dynamical rearrangements in the real enzyme, which deviate from the ideal catalytic configuration in small models. MD simulations on a retro-aldolase (RA22) found that nearly iso-energetic conformations in ab initio calculations significantly changed preference in heterogeneous protein environment [ 35]. An altered substrate conformation for example, rearranged the hydrogen-bonding network at the active site, which hampered the formation of the catalytic His233-Asp53 dyad. Another covalent retro-aldolase complex showed that wobbling of a catalytic lysine residue is compromising for activity by reducing efficiency of a proton transfer [ 23]. Dynamics can also distinguish between active and inactive designs. In MD simulations, the active KE70 Kemp eliminase exhibited minor deviations from the designed structure [ 26], while the catalytic dyad of the inactive KE38 adopted a significantly different geometry. Such instabilities, similarly to that of retro-aldolases [ 35] alter hydrogen-bonding geometry and perturb proton shuttling. Hence considering dynamic effects is critical in maintaining polar networks.