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Determination of pKa Values of Carboxyl Groups in the N-Terminal Domain of Rat CD2:  Anomalous pKa of a Glutamate on the Ligand-Binding Surface

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journal contribution
posted on 19.05.2000 by Ho Ann Chen, Mark Pfuhl, Mark S. B. McAlister, Paul C. Driscoll
The ligand-binding surface of the T-lymphocyte glycoprotein CD2 has an unusually high proportion of charged residues, and ionic interactions are thought to play a significant role in defining the ligand specificity and binding affinity of CD2 with the structurally homologous ligands CD48 (in rodents) and CD58 (in humans). The determination of the electrostatic properties of these proteins can therefore contribute to our understanding of structure−activity relationships for these adhesion complexes that underpin T-cell adhesion to antigen-presenting cells. In this study, we investigated the pH titration behavior of the carboxyl groups of the N-terminal domain of rat CD2 (CD2d1) using the chemical shifts of backbone amide nitrogen-15 (15N) and proton NMR resonances, and carboxyl carbon-13 (13C) signals. The analysis revealed the presence of a glutamate (Glu41) on the binding surface of rat CD2 with an unusually elevated acidity constant (pKa = 6.73) for CD2d1 samples at 1.2 mM concentration. pH titration of CD2d1 at low protein concentration (0.1 mM) resulted in a slight decrease of the measured pKa of Glu41 to 6.36. The ionization of Glu41 exhibited reciprocal interactions with a second glutamate (Glu29) in a neighboring location, with both residues demonstrating characteristic biphasic titration behavior of the carboxyl 13C resonances. Measurements at pH 5.5 of the two-bond deuterium isotope shift for the 13C carboxyl resonances for Glu41 and Glu29 [2ΔCδ(OεD) = 0.2 and 0.1 ppm, respectively] were consistent with the assignment of the anomalous pKa to Glu41, under the strong influence of Glu29. The characterization of single site mutations of CD2d1 residues Glu41 and Glu29 to glutamine confirmed the anomalous pKa for Glu41, and indicated that electrostatic interaction with the Glu29 side chain is a significant contributing influence for this behavior in the wild-type protein. The implications of these observations are discussed with respect to recent structural and functional analyses of the interaction of rat CD2 with CD48. In particular, CD2 Glu41 must be a candidate residue to explain the previously reported strong pH dependence of binding of these two proteins in vitro.