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Appl Environ Microbiol. Dec 1994; 60(12): 4351–4358.
PMCID: PMC201992

Involvement of an N-Acetylglucosaminidase in Autolysis of Propionibacterium freudenreichii CNRZ 725


Propionibacterium freudenreichii plays an important role in Swiss cheese ripening (it produces propionic acid, acetic acid, and CO2). Moreover, autolysis of this organism certainly contributes to proteolysis and lipolysis of the curd because intracellular enzymes are released. By varying external factors, we determined the following conditions which promoted autolysis of both whole cells and isolated cell walls of P. freudenreichii CNRZ 725: (i) 0.1 M potassium phosphate buffer (pH 5.8) at 40°C and (ii) 0.05 to 0.1 M KCl at 40°C. We found that early-exponential-phase cells possessed the highest autolytic activity. It should be emphasized that the pH of Swiss cheese curd (pH 5.5 to 5.7) is near the optimal pH which we determined. Ultrastructural observations by electron microscopy revealed a 16-nm-thick homogeneous cell wall, as well as degradation of the cell wall that occurred concomitantly with cell autolysis. In the presence of 0.05 M potassium chloride, there was a great deal of isolated cell wall autolysis (the optical density at 650 nm decreased 77.5% ± 7.3% in 3 h), and one-half of the peptidoglycan material was released. Finally, the main autolytic activity was due to an N-acetylglucosaminidase activity.

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Selected References

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