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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 Dec;60(12):4559-66.

Purification and characterization of a thermostable thiol protease from a newly isolated hyperthermophilic Pyrococcus sp.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering, Osaka University, Japan.


A hyperthermophilic archaeon strain, KOD1, was isolated from a solfatara at a wharf on Kodakara Island, Kagoshima, Japan. The growth temperature of the strain ranged from 65 to 100 degrees C, and the optimal temperature was 95 degrees C. The anaerobic strain was an S0-dependent heterotroph. Cells were irregular cocci and were highly motile with several polar flagella. The membrane lipid was of the ether type, and the GC content of the DNA was estimated to be 38 mol%. The 16S rRNA sequence was 95% homologous to that of Pyrococcus abyssi. The optimum growth pH and NaCl concentration of the strain KOD1 were 7.0 and 3%, respectively. Therefore, strain KOD1 was identified as a Pyrococcus sp. Strain KOD1 produced at least three extracellular proteases. One of the most thermostable proteases was purified 21-fold, and the molecular size was determined to be 44 kDa by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and 45 kDa by gel filtration chromatography. The specific activity of the purified protease was 2,160 U/mg of protein. The enzyme exhibited its maximum activity at approximately pH 7.0 and at a temperature of 110 degrees with azocasein as a substrate. The enzyme activity was completely retained after heat treatment at 90 degrees C for 2 h, and the half-life of enzymatic activity at 100 degrees C was 60 min. The proteolytic activity was significantly inhibited by p-chloromercuribenzoic acid or E-64 but not by EDTA or phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride. Proteolytic activity was enhanced threefold in the presence of 8 mM cysteine. These experimental results indicated that the enzyme was a thermostable thiol protease.

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