Background. Conger eel galectins, congerin I (ConI) and congerin II (ConII), show the different molecular characteristics resulting from accelerating evolution. We recently reconstructed a probable ancestral form of congerins, Con-anc. It showed properties similar to those of ConII in terms of thermostability and carbohydrate recognition specificity, although it shares a higher sequence similarity with ConI than ConII. Results. In this study, we have focused on the different amino acid residues between Con-anc and ConI, and have performed the protein engineering of Con-anc through site-directed mutagenesis, followed by the molecular evolution analysis of the mutants. This approach revealed the functional importance of loop structures of congerins: (1) N- and C-terminal and loop 5 regions that are involved in conferring a high thermostability to ConI; (2) loops 3, 5, and 6 that are responsible for stronger binding of ConI to most sugars; and (3) loops 5 and 6, and Thr38 residue in loop 3 contribute the specificity of ConI toward lacto-N-fucopentaose-containing sugars. Conclusions. Thus, this methodology, with tracing of the molecular evolution using ancestral mutants, is a powerful tool for the analysis of not only the molecular evolutionary process, but also the structural elements of a protein responsible for its various functions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics