Replacement of the catalytic base Glu400 by glutamine in glucoamylase from Aspergillus niger affects both substrates ground-state binding and transition-state stabilization. Compared to those of the wild-type enzyme, Km values for maltose and maltoheptaose are 12- and 3-fold higher for the Glu400-->Gln mutant, with kcat values 35- and 60-fold lower, respectively, for the same substrates. This unusually high residual activity for a glycosylase mutant at a putative catalytic group is tentatively explained by a reorganization of the hydrogen bond network, using the crystal structure of the related Aspergillus awamori var. X100 glucoamylase in complex with 1-deoxynojirimycin [Harris, E. M. S., Aleshin, A. E., Firsov, L. M., & Honzatko, R. B. (1993) Biochemistry 32, 1618-1626]. Supposedly Gln400 in the mutant hydrogen bonds to the invariant Tyr48, as does Glu400 in the wild-type enzyme. For Tyr48-->Trp A. niger glucoamylase kcat is reduced 80-100-fold, while Km is increased only 2-3-fold. Gln401 also hydrogen bonds to Glu400, but its mutation to glutamic acid has only a minor effect on activity. The Tyr48-->Trp and Glu400-->Gln glucoamylases share particular features in displaying unusually high activity below pH 4.0-which reflects lack of the wild-type catalytic base function- and unusually low binding affinity at subsite 2. Both mutants have lost 13-16 kJ mol-1 in transition-state stabilization energy.