Reaction patterns for the hydrolysis of chromophoric glycosides from cello-oligosaccharides and lactose by the cellobiohydrolases (CBH I and CBH II) purified from Trichoderma reesei and Penicillium pinophilum were determined. They coincide with those found for the parent unsubstituted sugars. CBH I enzyme from both organisms attacks these substrates in a random manner. Turnover numbers are, however, low and do not increase appreciably as a function of the degree of polymerization of the substrates. The active-site topology of the CBH I from T. reesei was further probed by equilibrium binding experiments with cellobiose, cellotriose, lactose and some of their derivatives. These point to a single interaction site (ABC), spatially restricted as deduced from the apparent independency of the thermodynamic parameters. It appears that the putative subsite A can accommodate a galactopyranosyl or glucopyranosyl group, and subsite B a glucopyranosyl group, whereas in subsite C either a glucopyranosyl or a chromophoric group can be bound, scission occurring between subsites B and C. The apparent kinetic parameters (turnover numbers) for the hydrolysis of cello-oligosaccharides (and their derivatives) by the CBH II type enzyme increase as a function of chain length, indicative of an extended binding site (A-F). Its architecture allows for specific binding of beta-(1-4)-glucopyranosyl groups in subsites A, B and C. Binding of a chromophore in subsite C produces a non-hydrolysable complex. The thermodynamic interaction parameters of some ligands common to both type of enzyme were compared: these substantiate the conclusions reached above.

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