Characterization of poly-gamma-glutamate hydrolase encoded by a bacteriophage genome: possible role in phage infection of Bacillus subtilis encapsulated with poly-gamma-glutamate

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Keitarou Kimura, Yoshifumi Itoh


Some Bacillus subtilis strains, including natto (fermented soybeans) starter strains, produce a capsular polypeptide of glutamate with a gamma-linkage, called poly-gamma-glutamate (gamma-PGA). We identified and purified a monomeric 25-kDa degradation enzyme for gamma-PGA (designated gamma-PGA hydrolase, PghP) from bacteriophage PhiNIT1 in B. subtilis host cells. The monomeric PghP internally hydrolyzed gamma-PGA to oligopeptides, which were then specifically converted to tri-, tetra-, and penta-gamma-glutamates. Monoiodoacetate and EDTA both inhibited the PghP activity, but Zn(2+) or Mn(2+) ions fully restored the enzyme activity inhibited by the chelator, suggesting that a cysteine residue(s) and these metal ions participate in the catalytic mechanism of the enzyme. The corresponding pghP gene was cloned and sequenced from the phage genome. The deduced PghP sequence (208 amino acids) with a calculated M(r) of 22,939 was not significantly similar to any known enzyme. Thus, PghP is a novel gamma-glutamyl hydrolase. Whereas phage PhiNIT1 proliferated in B. subtilis cells encapsulated with gamma-PGA, phage BS5 lacking PghP did not survive well on such cells. Moreover, all nine phages that contaminated natto during fermentation pro...Continue Reading


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