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Human carbonic anhydrase II (HCA II) is a zinc metalloenzyme that catalyzes the reversible hydration and dehydration of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate, respectively. The rate-limiting step in catalysis is the intramolecular transfer of a proton between the zinc-bound solvent (H2O/OH) and the proton-shuttling residue His64. This distance (∼7.5 Å) is spanned by a well defined active-site solvent network stabilized by amino-acid side chains (Tyr7, Asn62, Asn67, Thr199 and Thr200). Despite the availability of high-resolution (∼1.0 Å) X-ray crystal structures of HCA II, there is currently no definitive information available on the positions and orientations of the H atoms of the solvent network or active-site amino acids and their ionization states. In preparation for neutron diffraction studies to elucidate this hydrogen-bonding network, perdeuterated HCA II has been expressed, purified, crystallized and its X-ray structure determined to 1.5 Å resolution. The refined structure is highly isomorphous with hydrogenated HCA II, especially with regard to the active-site architecture and solvent network. This work demonstrates the suitability of these crystals for neutron macromolecular crystallography.

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