Crystals of beta-lactamase II (EC, ‘penicillinase’) from Bacillus cereus were grown with Cd(II) in place of the natural Zn(II) cofactor and stabilized by cross-linking with glutaraldehyde. Their space group is C2, the cell dimensions are a = 5.44 nm, b = 6.38 nm, c = 7.09 nm and beta = 93.6 degrees, and there is one molecule in the asymmetric unit. Diffraction data were collected from cross-linked crystals of the Cd(II)-enzyme, the apoenzyme and six heavy-atom derivatives. The electron-density map calculated at 0.35 nm resolution reveals the essential Cd(II) ion surrounded by three histidine residues and one cysteine residue. The position of a glutamic acid residue, modification of which destroys activity [Little, Emanuel, Gagnon & Waley (1986) Biochem. J. 233, 465-469], suggests the probable location of the active site of the enzyme. Two minor Cd(II) sites not essential for activity were also located. The structure of the apoenzyme at this resolution appears to differ from that of the Cd(II)-enzyme only in the orientation of two of the histidine residues and the cysteine residue that surround the metal ion.

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