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J Bacteriol. 2003 Oct;185(20):5915-24.

Production of high-quality particulate methane monooxygenase in high yields from Methylococcus capsulatus (bath) with a hollow-fiber membrane bioreactor.

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  • 1Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei 115, Taiwan.


In order to obtain particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO)-enriched membranes from Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath) with high activity and in high yields, we devised a method to process cell growth in a fermentor adapted with a hollow-fiber bioreactor that allows easy control and quantitative adjustment of the copper ion concentration in NMS medium over the time course of cell culture. This technical improvement in the method for culturing bacterial cells allowed us to study the effects of copper ion concentration in the growth medium on the copper content in the membranes, as well as the specific activity of the enzyme. The optimal copper concentration in the growth medium was found to be 30 to 35 micro M. Under these conditions, the pMMO is highly expressed, accounting for 80% of the total cytoplasmic membrane proteins and having a specific activity as high as 88.9 nmol of propylene oxide/min/mg of protein with NADH as the reductant. The copper stoichiometry is approximately 13 atoms per pMMO molecule. Analysis of other metal contents provided no evidence of zinc, and only traces of iron were present in the pMMO-enriched membranes. Further purification by membrane solubilization in dodecyl beta-D-maltoside followed by fractionation of the protein-detergent complexes according to molecular size by gel filtration chromatography resulted in a good yield of the pMMO-detergent complex and a high level of homogeneity. The pMMO-detergent complex isolated in this way had a molecular mass of 220 kDa and consisted of an alphabetagamma protein monomer encapsulated in a micelle consisting of ca. 240 detergent molecules. The enzyme is a copper protein containing 13.6 mol of copper/mol of pMMO and essentially no iron (ratio of copper to iron, 80:1). Both the detergent-solubilized membranes and the purified pMMO-detergent complex exhibited reasonable, if not excellent, specific activity. Finally, our ability to control the level of expression of the pMMO allowed us to clarify the sensitivity of the enzyme to NADH and duroquinol, the two common reductants used to assay the enzyme.

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