Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2003-09


Genomic analysis and initial characterization of the chitinolytic system of Microbulbifer degradans strain 2-40.




Howard, MB; Ekborg, NA; Taylor, LE; Weiner, RM; Hutcheson, SW


Journal of Bacteriology 185(11):3352-3360




The marine bacterium Microbulbifier degradans strain 2-40 produces at least 10 enzyme systems for degrading insoluble complex polysaccharides (ICP). The draft sequence of the 2-40 genome allowed a genome-wide analysis of the chitinolytic system of strain 2-40. The chitinolytic system includes three secreted chitin depolymerases (ChiA, ChiB, and ChiC), a secreted chitin-binding protein (CbpA), periplasmic chitooligosaccharide-modifying enzymes, putative sugar transporters, and a cluster of genes encoding cytoplasmic proteins involved in N-acetyl-D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) metabolism. Each chitin depolymerase was detected in culture supernatants of chitin-grown strain 2-40 and was active against chitin and glycol chitin. The chitin depolymerases also had a specific pattern of activity toward the chitin analogs 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-N,N'-diacetylchitobioside (MUF-diNAG) and 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-N,N',N"-triacetylchitotrioside (MUF-triNAG). The depolymerases were modular in nature and contained glycosyl hydrolase family 18 domains, chitin-binding domains, and polycystic kidney disease domains. ChiA and Chill each possessed polyserine linkers of up to 32 consecutive serine residues. In addition, ChiB and CbpA contained glutamic acid-rich domains. At 1,271 amino acids, Chill is the largest bacterial chitinase reported to date. A chitodextrinase (CdxA) with activity against chitooligosaccharides (degree of polymerization of 5 to 7) was identified. The activities of two apparent periplasmic (HexA and HexB) N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidases and one cytoplasmic (HexC) N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase were demonstrated. Genes involved in GlcNAc metabolism, similar to those of the Escherichia coli K-12 NAG utilization operon, were identified. NagA from strain 2-40, a GlcNAc deacetylase, was shown to complement a nagA mutation in E. coli K-12. Except for the GlcNAc utilization cluster, genes for all other components of the chitinolytic system were dispersed throughout the genome. Further examination of this system may provide additional insight into the mechanisms by which marine bacteria degrade chitin and provide a basis for future research on the ICP-degrading systems of strain 2-40.

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