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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Nov;267(21):6459-69.

A novel extracellular esterase from Bacillus subtilis and its conversion to a monoacylglycerol hydrolase.

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Lehrstuhl Biologie der Mikroorganismen, Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum, Germany.


A novel gene lipB, which encodes an extracellular lipolytic enzyme, was identified in the Bacillus subtilis genomic DNA sequence. We have cloned and overexpressed lipB in B. subtilis and Escherichia coli and have also purified the enzyme from a B. subtilis culture supernatant to electrophoretic homogeneity. Four different lipase assays were used to determine its catalytic activity: pH-stat, spectrophotometry, fluorimetry and the monomolecular film technique. LipB preferentially hydrolysed triacylglycerol-esters and p-nitrophenyl-esters of fatty acids with short chain lengths of </= 10 carbon atoms. Triolein, which is a typical substrate for true lipases, was not hydrolysed at all. These results led us to classify LipB as an esterase rather than a lipase. The catalytic triad of LipB consists of residues Ser78, Asp134, and His157 as demonstrated by amino-acid sequence alignments and site-directed mutagenesis. The nucleophile Ser78 is located in a lipase-specific consensus sequence, which is Ala-X-Ser-X-Gly for most Bacillus lipases. All other bacterial lipases contain a glycine residue instead of the alanine at position-2 with respect to the catalytic serine. We have investigated the role of this alanine residue by constructing LipB variant A76G, thereby restoring the lipase-specific consensus motif. When compared with LipB this variant showed a markedly reduced thermostability but an increased stability at pH 5-7. Determination of the specific activities of wild-type LipB and variant A76G using a monomolecular film of the substrate monoolein revealed an interesting result: the A76G substitution had converted the esterase LipB into a monoacylglycerol hydrolase.

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