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Extremophiles. 2004 Apr;8(2):117-24. Epub 2004 Jan 10.

A xylan-degrading strain of Sulfolobus solfataricus: isolation and characterization of the xylanase activity.

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Istituto di Biochimica delle Proteine-CNR, Via P. Castellino 111, 80131, Naples, Italy.


Two strains (O(alpha) and X(2)) of the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus strain MT4 were selected and isolated for their ability to grow on xylan. O(alpha) and X(2), grown on media containing oat spelt xylan and birchwood xylan as the sole nutrient source, respectively, produced the same thermostable xylanase that was demonstrated to be inducible in xylan cultures. In an oat spelt medium, S. solfataricus O(alpha) underwent interesting morphological changes in the cell envelope, exhibiting mobile appendages not present in the typical coccal shape. The enzyme was prevalently membrane associated and showed a molecular mass of approximately 57.0 kDa. It was also highly thermostable, with a half-life of 47 min at 100 degrees C, and exhibited an optimal temperature and pH of 90 degrees C and 7.0, respectively. Xylo-oligosaccharides were the enzymatic products of xylan hydrolysis, and the smallest degradation product was xylobiose, thus indicating that the enzyme was an endoxylanase. The enzyme was able to bind weakly to crystalline cellulose (Avicel) and more strongly to insoluble xylan in a substrate amount-and temperature-dependent manner.

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