Studies of the binding of the four sugars alpha- and beta-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) and its alpha- and beta-methyl glycosides to hen egg-white lysozyme (EC by means of high-resolution 1H n.m.r. at 270 MHz are reported. The details of the binding analyses are described in an Appendix. The results show that the sugars bind independently to more than one site in lysozyme. The apparent fully bound chemical shifts to the inhibitor proton signals show that, although the major binding modes are generally similar for the four sugars, the binding of alpha GlcNAc is distinct from that of alpha MeGlcNAc and beta MeClcNAc. The binding of beta GlcNAc is intermediate in character between these two modes. The observed shift changes of the inhibitor signals are correlated with the crystal structures of lysozyme-inhibitor complexes by the use of Johnson-Bovey ring-current calculations. Together with consideration of the chemical-shift anisotropy of the GlcNAc amide group, these suggest that GlcNAc-binding sites in solution are in subsites C and E. The calculations show also that the indole rings of Trp-62 and Trp-63 rotate towards subsite C on the binding of GlcNAc, whereas Trp-108 moves away slightly. These findings indicate a difference between the solution and tetragonal crystal forms of lysozyme-GlcNAc and lysozymes-beta MeGlcNAc complexes. In the crystal structure, binding of acetamido monosaccharides is only observed in subsite C, and binding in subsite E is prevented by crystal packing.

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