Singlet-singlet energy transfer from the tryptophan residues to an active-site-serine-bound 5-dimethylaminonaphthalene-1-sulphonyl group was investigated in four subtilisins. The transfer distances for subtilisin Novo and mesentericopeptidase are 1.93 +/- 0.20 nm (19.3 +/- 2.0 A) and 1.81 +/- 0.20 nm (18.1 +/- 2.0 A) respectively. The positions of the indole groups in the three-dimensional structures of the two pairs of proteinases, namely subtilisin Novo and mesentericopeptidase on the one hand and subtilisins Carlsberg and DY on the other, are essentially identical.
Subtilisin DY is very resistant to the denaturing action of urea: the conformational properties are not affected up to 4.5 M-urea, and even in the presence of 8 M-urea there is only a slow loss of ordered structure and caseinolytic activity. C.d. and fluorescence-emission studies also show that this proteinase is stable in the 5.5-10.0 pH range, whereas below pH 5.5 a sharp denaturation occurs that is complete at pH 4.5. Protein denaturation leads to a change of the emission quantum yield; in particular, in the native protein, indole fluorescence is quenched by some amino groups. Moreover, subtilisin DY possesses two classes of tyrosine residues: one class of exposed residues titrates normally, with pKapp. = 10.24, whereas one class of partially buried or hydrogen-bonded residues ionizes with pKapp. = 11.58. In general, such conformational properties resemble those of other subtilisins. However, some differences occur: e.g., subtilisin DY is less stable at acidic pH values and its tyrosine residues are more accessible to the solvent. Such differences are probably due to small variations of the three-dimensional structure; e.g., subtilisin DY has a slightly lower alpha-helix content.
Circular-dichroism and fluorescence studies indicate that the 5-dimethylaminonaphthalene-1-sulphonyl and phenylmethanesulphonyl derivatives of subtilisin DY have three-dimensional structure closely similar to that of native enzyme. The single tryptophan residue is largely accessible to the aqueous solvent, and is not directly involved in the enzyme-substrate interactions, since its photochemical modification causes only a partial inhibition of the enzyme activity. It appears very likely that the location of the single tryptophan residue in the three-dimensional structure of subtilisin DY is similar to that of the single tryptophan residue in subtilisin Carlsberg. Fluorescence-quenching experiments further indicate that the 14 tyrosine residues are also largely accessible to the aqueous solvent, and probably interact with hydrated peptide carbonyl groups. The charge environment for tryptophan and tyrosine residues in subtilisin DY, as deduced by quenching experiments with ionic species, is also discussed. In general, subtilisin DY displays strong similarities to subtilisin Carlsberg, as suggested by a comparative analysis of the amino acid composition and fluorescence properties.