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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Jun;57(6):1615-23.

A Bacteroides ovatus chromosomal locus which contains an alpha-galactosidase gene may be important for colonization of the gastrointestinal tract.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


An alpha-galactosidase gene has been cloned from the human colonic Bacteroides species Bacteroides ovatus 0038. This alpha-galactosidase appears to be distinct from two previously characterized alpha-galactosidases, I and II, from the same strain and has been designated alpha-galactosidase III. Partially purified alpha-galactosidase III from Escherichia coli EM24 containing pFG61 delta SE had a pI of 7.6, as compared with the reported pI values for the known alpha-galactosidases of 5.6 for I and 6.9 for II. Its molecular weight as estimated on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels was 78,000, whereas the molecular weights of alpha-galactosidases I and II were 85,000 and 80,500, respectively. The only substrate hydrolyzed by alpha-galactosidase III was melibiose, whereas the other two alpha-galactosidases were able to degrade melibiose, raffinose, and stachyose and partially degraded guar gum. alpha-Galactosidase III had a pH optimum of 6.7 to 7.2. Finally, a single crossover insertion which disrupted the gene in the B. ovatus chromosome had no effect on expression of alpha-galactosidases I and II. Although this insertion had no effect on the ability of B. ovatus to grow in laboratory medium on any of the galactoside-containing carbohydrates tested, the insertion mutant was outcompeted by wild type when a combination of mutant and wild type was used to colonize germfree mice. Insertions on either side of the gene had the same effect. Thus, the locus which contains alpha-galactosidase III may be important for colonization in vivo.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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