Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 7, pp 3183–3191 | Cite as

Exploring the sequence diversity in glycoside hydrolase family 13_18 reveals a novel glucosylglycerol phosphorylase

  • Jorick Franceus
  • Lena Decuyper
  • Matthias D’hooghe
  • Tom Desmet
Biotechnologically relevant enzymes and proteins


In the carbohydrate-active enzyme database, GH13_18 is a family of retaining glycoside phosphorylases that act on α-glucosides. In this work, we explored the functional diversity of this family by comparing distinctive sequence motifs in different branches of its phylogenetic tree. A glycoside phosphorylase from Marinobacter adhaerens HP15 that was predicted to have a novel function was expressed and characterised. The enzyme was found to catalyse the reversible phosphorolysis of 2-O-α-d-glucosylglycerol with retention of the anomeric configuration, a specificity that has never been described before. Homology modelling, docking and mutagenesis were performed to pinpoint particular acceptor site residues (Tyr194, Ala333, Gln336) involved in the binding of glycerol. The new enzyme specificity provides additional insights into bacterial metabolic routes, being the first report of a phosphorolytic route for glucosylglycerol in a glucosylglycerol-producing organism. Furthermore, glucosylglycerol phosphorylase might be an attractive biocatalyst for the production of the osmolyte glucosylglycerol, which is currently produced on industrial scale by exploiting a side activity of the closely related sucrose phosphorylase. Family GH13_18 has clearly proven to be more diverse than was initially assumed, and the analysis of specificity-determining sequence motifs has shown to be a straightforward and fruitful tool for enzyme discovery.


Glucosylglycerol phosphorylase Glucosylglycerol Glycoside hydrolase family GH13 Sucrose phosphorylase 



We thank Natan Van Welden for the help with lab experiments.


This study was funded by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen; doctoral scholarship for JF).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_8856_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (166 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 166 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Synthetic Biology (CSB), Department of BiotechnologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.SynBioC Research Group, Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and TechnologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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