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J Bacteriol. 2002 Jan;184(2):337-43.

Characterization of the Bacillus subtilis ywsC gene, involved in gamma-polyglutamic acid production.

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  • 1Department of Applied Biological Chemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Shizuoka University, 836 Ohya, Shizuoka 422-8529, Japan.


The genes required for gamma-polyglutamic acid (PGA) production were cloned from Bacillus subtilis IFO16449, a strain isolated from fermented soybeans. There were four open reading frames in the cloned 4.2-kb DNA fragment, and they were almost identical to those in the ywsC and ywtABC genes of B. subtlis 168. Northern blot analysis showed that the four genes constitute an operon. Three genes, ywsC, ywtA, and ywtB, were disrupted to determine which gene plays a central role in PGA biosynthesis. No PGA was produced in Delta ywsC and Delta ywtA strains, indicating that both of these genes are essential for PGA production. To clarify the function of the YwsC protein, histidine-tagged YwsC (YwsC-His) was produced in the Delta ywsC strain and purified from the lysozyme-treated lysate of the transformant by Ni-nitrilotriacetic acid affinity chromatography. Western blot analysis revealed that the YwsC-His protein consists of two subunits, the 44-kDa and 33-kDa proteins, which are encoded by in-phase overlapping in the ywsC gene. (14)C-labeled PGA was synthesized by the purified proteins from L-[(14)C]-glutamate in the presence of ATP and MnCl(2), through an acylphosphate intermediate, indicating that the ywsC gene encodes PGA synthetase (EC 6.3.2), a crucial enzyme in PGA biosynthesis.

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