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Biochem J. Oct 15, 1995; 311(Pt 2): 377–383.
PMCID: PMC1136011

Reaction mechanism of chitosanase from Streptomyces sp. N174.


Chitosanase was produced by the strain of Streptomyces lividans TK24 bearing the csn gene from Streptomyces sp. N174, and purified by S-Sepharose and Bio-Gel A column chromatography. Partially (25-35%) N-acetylated chitosan was digested by the purified chitosanase, and structures of the products were analysed by NMR spectroscopy. The chitosanase produced heterooligosaccharides consisting of D-GlcN and GlcNAc in addition to glucosamine oligosaccharides [(GlcN)n, n = 1, 2 and 3]. The reducing- and non-reducing-end residues of the heterooligosaccharide products were GlcNAc and GlcN respectively, indicating that the chitosanase can split the GlcNAc-GlcN linkage in addition to that of GlcN-GlcN. Time-dependent 1H-NMR spectra showing hydrolysis of (GlcN)6 by the chitosanase were obtained in order to determine the anomeric form of the reaction products. The chitosanase was found to produce only the alpha-form; therefore it is an inverting enzyme. Separation and quantification of (GlcN)n was achieved by HPLC, and the time course of the reaction catalysed by the chitosanase was studied using (GlcN)n (n = 4, 5 and 6) as the substrate. The chitosanase hydrolysed (GlcN)6 in an endo-splitting manner producing (GlcN)2, (GlcN)3 and (GlcN)4, and did not catalyse transglycosylation. Product distribution was (GlcN)3 >> (GlcN)2 > (GlcN)4. Cleavage to (GlcN)3 + (GlcN)3 predominated over that to (GlcN)2 + (GlcN)4. Time courses showed a decrease in rate of substrate degradation from (GlcN)6 to (GlcN)5 to (GlcN)4. It is most likely that the substrate-binding cleft of the chitosanase can accommodate at least six GlcN residues, and that the cleavage point is located at the midpoint of the binding cleft.

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Selected References

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