European journal of biochemistry

Substrate specificity of small-intestinal lactase. Assessment of the role of the substrate hydroxyl groups.

PMID 1396715


Lactase-phlorizin hydrolase is a disaccharidase present in the small intestine of mammals. This enzyme has two active sites, one being responsible for the hydrolysis of lactose. Lactase activity is thought to be selective towards glycosides with a hydrophilic aglycon. In this work, we report a systematic study on the importance of each hydroxyl group in the substrate molecule for lactase activity. For this purpose, all of the monodeoxy derivatives of methyl beta-lactoside and other lactose analogues are studied as lactase substrates. With respect to the galactose moiety, it is shown here that HO-3' and HO-2' are necessary for hydrolysis of the substrates by lactase. Using these chemically modified substrates, it has been confirmed that lactase does not behave as a typical beta-galactosidase, since it does not show an absolute selectivity with respect to substitution and stereochemistry at C4' in the galactose moiety of the substrate. However, the glucose moiety, in particular the HO-6, appears to be important for substrate hydrolysis, although none of the hydroxyl groups seemed to be essential. In order to differentiate both activities of the enzyme, a new assay for the phlorizin-hydrolase activity has also been developed.