Endoglucanase CtCel9Q is one of the enzyme components of the cellulosome, which is an active cellulase system in the thermophile Clostridium thermocellum. The precursor form of CtCel9Q comprises a signal peptide, a glycoside hydrolase family 9 catalytic domain, a type 3c carbohydrate-binding module (CBM), and a type I dockerin domain. Here, we report the crystal structures of C-terminally truncated CtCel9Q (CtCel9QΔc) complexed with Tris, Tris+cellobiose, cellobiose+cellotriose, cellotriose, and cellotetraose at resolutions of 1.50, 1.70, 2.05, 2.05 and 1.75 Å, respectively. CtCel9QΔc forms a V-shaped homodimer through residues Lys529–Glu542 on the type 3c CBM, which pairs two β-strands (β4 and β5 of the CBM). In addition, a disulfide bond was formed between the two Cys535 residues of the protein monomers in the asymmetric unit. The structures allow the identification of four minus (−) subsites and two plus (+) subsites; this is important for further understanding the structural basis of cellulose binding and hydrolysis. In the oligosaccharide-free and cellobiose-bound CtCel9QΔc structures, a Tris molecule was found to be bound to three catalytic residues of CtCel9Q and occupied subsite −1 of the CtCel9Q active-site cleft. Moreover, the enzyme activity assay in the presence of 100 mm Tris showed that the Tris almost completely suppressed CtCel9Q hydrolase activity.
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