Evidence of chitosanase involvement in the protection of bacteria against the antimicrobial activity of the chitosan
Date de publication2009
Ghinet, Mariana Gabriela
Chitosan, a biopolymer composed of [béta]-(1,4)-linked D-glucosamine and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues has multiple industrial applications. Recently, chitosan has gained great interest due to its antimicrobial activity. Chitosan has antimicrobial activity against a wide range of target organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. This antimicrobial activity is based on its cationic character, and is mediated by the chitosan's positively charged amino groups interactions with negatively charged residues in the bacterial cell wall. Enzymes with chitosanase activity catalyzing the hydrolysis of glycoside linkages in chitosan are found in many organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and plants. In the last three decades, chitosanases have been intensively studied as tools for biotechnological transformation of chitosan. However, less is known about their physiological functions in chitosanase-producing microorganisms. Previous reports have characterized chitosanases as metabolic enzymes allowing bacteria to use chitosan as carbon and nitrogen sources. The aim of this research project was to examine chitosanases significance as possible resistance factors against the antimicrobial effect of chitosan. Our work, as well as previous studies realized in our laboratory, showed that expression of a heterologous chitosanase gene in the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli (naturally devoid of chitosanase activity) increases the level of resistance against chitosan. Interestingly, the resistance level to chitosan was influenced by the relative activity of the heterologous chitosanase. The expression of inactive heterologous chitosanase did not confer any resistance to chitosan supporting our hypothesis that chitosanases may have a role in the protection against the antimicrobial effect of chitosan. In order to obtain more direct evidence sustaining our hypothesis, we inactivated the chitosanase gene from Streptomyces lividans TK24. Hence, we developed a new system for gene disruption and replacement in Streptomyces with cytosine deaminase as negative selection marker. The disruption of the chitosanase gene in S. lividans TK24 resulted in an increased susceptibility of the mutant strain towards the toxic effect of chitosan. Our in vivo experiments showed that, in the presence of chitosan, growth of this mutant strain as well as its ability for xylose uptake were impaired compared to the wildtype strain. This represents the first genetical proof for the protective role of a chitosanase against the bactericidal effect of chitosan. In our quest to discover chitosanases with new characteristics, we determined the biochemical properties of the chitosanase CsnA from Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Our studies revealed that CsnA was, in many aspects, very similar to the chitosanase CsnN174 from Streptomyces sp. N174. An interesting feature of the CsnA is its secretion. The signal peptide of the CsnA has a Tat-dependent motif. The CsnA is the first studied chitosanase to be secreted via the Tat pathway. These studies also contributed to a better understanding of the chitosanase secretion. Evidence concerning the role of chitosanases in the protection of bacteria against the bactericidal effect of chitosan was also brought by the study of cell localization of the exo-[béta]-D-glucosaminidase (CsxA) from Amycolatopsis orientalis. CsxA has a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM35) with an unusual affinity This module appended to CsxA recognizes as substrate glucuronic acid, a component of the Gram-positive bacterie cell wall. Thereby, we analyzed by epifluorescence and confocal microscopy the cellular localization of the CsxA-CBM35 in Amycolatopsis orientalis cells grown in the presence of chitosan.
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