Structural analysis of dispersin B, a biofilm-releasing glycoside hydrolase from the periodontopathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans

N. Ramasubbu, L. M. Thomas, C. Ragunath, J. B. Kaplan

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146 Scopus citations


Bacteria in a biofilm are enmeshed in a self-synthesized extracellular polysaccharide matrix that holds the bacteria together in a mass and firmly attaches the bacterial mass to the underlying surface. A major component of the extracellular polysaccharide matrix in several phylogenetically diverse bacteria is PGA, a linear polymer of N-acetylglucosamine residues in β(1,6)-linkage. PGA is produced by the Gram-negative periodontopathogen Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans as well as by the Gram-positive device-associated pathogen Staphylococcus epidermidis. We recently reported that A. actinomycetemcomitans produces a soluble glycoside hydrolase named dispersin B, which degrades PGA. Here, we present the crystal structure of dispersin B at 2.0 Å in complex with a glycerol and an acetate ion at the active site. The enzyme crystallizes in the orthorhombic space group C2221 with cell dimensions a=41.02 Å, b=86.13 Å, c=185.77 Å. The core of the enzyme consists a (β/α)8 barrel topology similar to other β-hexosaminidases but significant differences exist in the arrangement of loops hovering in the vicinity of the active site. The location and interactions of the glycerol and acetate moieties in conjunction with the sequence analysis suggest that dispersin B cleaves β(1,6)-linked N-acetylglucosamine polymer using a catalytic machinery similar to other family 20 hexosaminidases which cleave β(1,4)-linked N-acetylglucosamine residues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-486
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 10 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


  • Biofilm
  • Complex
  • Crystal structure
  • Exopolysaccharide hydrolysis
  • β-hexosaminidase


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