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Dispersin B (DspB), a family 20 β-hexosaminidase from the oral pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, cleaves β(1,6)-linked N-acetylglucosamine polymer. In order to understand the substrate specificity of DspB, we have undertaken to characterize several conserved and nonconserved residues in the vicinity of the active site. The active sites of DspB and other family 20 hexosaminidases possess three highly conserved acidic residues, several aromatic residues and an arginine at subsite −1. These residues were mutated using site-directed mutagenesis and characterized for their enzyme activity. Our results show that a highly conserved acid pair in β-hexosaminidases D183 and E184, and E332 play a critical role in the hydrolysis of the substrates. pH activity profile analysis showed a shift to a higher pH (6.8) in the optimal activity for the E184Q mutant, suggesting that this residue might act as the acid/base catalyst. The reduction in kcat observed for Y187A and Y278A mutants suggests that the Y187 residue (unique to DspB) located on a loop might play a role in substrate specificity and be a part of subsite +1, whereas the hydrogen-bond interaction between Y278A and the N-acetyl group might help to stabilize the transition state. Mutation of W237 and W330 residues abolished hydrolytic activity completely suggesting that alteration at these positions might collapse the binding pocket for the N-acetyl group. Mutation of the conserved R27 residue (to R27A or R27K) also caused significant reduction in kcat suggesting that R27 might be involved in stabilization of the transition state. From these results, we conclude that in DspB, and possibly in other structurally similar family 20 hydrolases, some residues at the active site assist in orienting the N-acetyl group to participate in the substrate-assisted mechanism, whereas other residues such as R27 and E332 assist in holding the terminal N-acetylglucosamine during the hydrolysis.