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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 Feb;65(2):367-73.

Biochemical characterization of fungal phytases (myo-inositol hexakisphosphate phosphohydrolases): catalytic properties.

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  • 1VFB Department, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., 4070 Basel, Switzerland. markus.wyss@roche.com


Supplementation with phytase is an effective way to increase the availability of phosphorus in seed-based animal feed. The biochemical characteristics of an ideal phytase for this application are still largely unknown. To extend the biochemical characterization of wild-type phytases, the catalytic properties of a series of fungal phytases, as well as Escherichia coli phytase, were determined. The specific activities of the fungal phytases at 37 degreesC ranged from 23 to 196 U. (mg of protein)-1, and the pH optima ranged from 2.5 to 7.0. When excess phytase was used, all of the phytases were able to release five phosphate groups of phytic acid (myo-inositol hexakisphosphate), which left myo-inositol 2-monophosphate as the end product. A combination consisting of a phytase and Aspergillus niger pH 2.5 acid phosphatase was able to liberate all six phosphate groups. When substrate specificity was examined, the A. niger, Aspergillus terreus, and E. coli phytases were rather specific for phytic acid. On the other hand, the Aspergillus fumigatus, Emericella nidulans, and Myceliophthora thermophila phytases exhibited considerable activity with a broad range of phosphate compounds, including phenyl phosphate, p-nitrophenyl phosphate, sugar phosphates, alpha- and beta-glycerophosphates, phosphoenolpyruvate, 3-phosphoglycerate, ADP, and ATP. Both phosphate liberation kinetics and a time course experiment in which high-performance liquid chromatography separation of the degradation intermediates was used showed that all of the myo-inositol phosphates from the hexakisphosphate to the bisphosphate were efficiently cleaved by A. fumigatus phytase. In contrast, phosphate liberation by A. niger or A. terreus phytase decreased with incubation time, and the myo-inositol tris- and bisphosphates accumulated, suggesting that these compounds are worse substrates than phytic acid is. To test whether broad substrate specificity may be advantageous for feed application, phosphate liberation kinetics were studied in vitro by using feed suspensions supplemented with 250 or 500 U of either A. fumigatus phytase or A. niger phytase (Natuphos) per kg of feed. Initially, phosphate liberation was linear and identical for the two phytases, but considerably more phosphate was liberated by the A. fumigatus phytase than by the A. niger phytase at later stages of incubation.

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