Aspartic proteinases (AP) have been widely studied within the living world, but so far no plant AP have been structurally characterized. The refined cardosin A crystallographic structure includes two molecules, built up by two glycosylated peptide chains (31 and 15 kDa each). The fold of cardosin A is typical within the AP family. The giycosyl content is described by 19 sugar rings attached to Asn-67 and Asn-257. They are localized on the molecular surface away from the conserved active site and show a new glycan of the plant complex type. A hydrogen bond between Gln-126 and Manβ4 renders the monosaccharide oxygen O-2 sterically inaccessible to accept a xylosyl residue, therefore explaining the new type of the identified plant glycan. The Arg-Gly-Asp sequence, which has been shown to be involved in recognition of a putative cardosin A receptor, was found in a loop between two β-strands on the molecular surface opposite the active site cleft. Based on the crystal structure, a possible mechanism whereby cardosin A might be orientated at the cell surface of the style to interact with its putative receptor from pollen is proposed. The biological implications of these findings are also discussed.
- aspartic proteinase
- vegetable protein