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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Feb;63(2):408-13.

Chitin Degradation Proteins Produced by the Marine Bacterium Vibrio harveyi Growing on Different Forms of Chitin.


Relatively little is known about the number, diversity, and function of chitinases produced by bacteria, even though chitin is one of the most abundant polymers in nature. Because of the importance of chitin, especially in marine environments, we examined chitin-degrading proteins in the marine bacterium Vibrio harveyi. This bacterium had a higher growth rate and more chitinase activity when grown on (beta)-chitin (isolated from squid pen) than on (alpha)-chitin (isolated from snow crab), probably because of the more open structure of (beta)-chitin. When exposed to different types of chitin, V. harveyi excreted several chitin-degrading proteins into the culture media. Some chitinases were present with all of the tested chitins, while others were unique to a particular chitin. We cloned and identified six separate chitinase genes from V. harveyi. These chitinases appear to be unique based on DNA restriction patterns, immunological data, and enzyme activity. This marine bacterium and probably others appear to synthesize separate chitinases for efficient utilization of different forms of chitin and chitin by-products.


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