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The isolation and characterisation of thermostable hydantoinases from hydantoinase-producing bacteria

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  • Bacteria
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


In order to characterise thermostable hydantoin-hydrolysing enzymes from bacteria, locally-isolated thermophilic organisms were screened for the ability to convert hydantoin to N-carbamylglycine at 55°C using the hydantoinase enzyme. Cell disruption of a selected strain, RU-20-15, was conducted by French pressing to release enzyme from within the cell. In all of the experiments conducted, the amounts of product were low. In view of the low yields of products formed by the thermophiles, a previously-isolated Gram negative strain, RU-KM3L was selected from a number of mesophiles by screening for hydantoinase and carbamylase activity over a 40-55°C temperature range. Hydantoin conversion at 40°C using crude extract from pressed cells of this organism was similar to conversion at 50°C, and therefore subsequent assays were conducted at the higher temperature. The growth kinetics of RU-KM3L cells were studied and the enzyme activities of the extracts were compared in complete and chemically-defined media. The results suggested that the optimal time to harvest cells was at early stationary phase, when using complete medium for culture of cells; the specific activity of enzyme extracts produced by culture in complete medium was higher than that obtained in chemically-defined medium. 5-methylhydantoin was shown to be the preferred substrate for both the hydantoinase and carbamylase enzymes in the crude extract of RU-KM3L. The substrate specificity of the hydantoinase and carbamylase enzymes of the crude RU-KM3L extract was observed to be altered in the presence of increasing amounts of hydantoin, 5,5-dihydrouracil (DHU) and 5-thiouracil (TU) as inducers, showing selectivity for 5-methylhydantoin over hydantoin at inducer concentrations of 0.1 to 1%. A limiting effect on the hydrolysis of 5-methylhydantoin was observed when DHU and 5,5-dimethylhydantoin (DMH) were used as inducers, while the limiting effect on hydantoin specificity was observed when DHU and TU were used as inducers. The limiting effect was observed to be dependent upon the concentration of inducer, and was not observed when hydantoin was used as an inducer. The optimal time for assay of the hydantoinase enzyme in crude extract preparations at 50°C was observed to be 3h. Alkaline conditions were shown to be optimal for both the hydantoinase and carbamylase enzymes of RU-KM3L. Assay for enzyme activities of RU-KM3L extract in the presence of metal ions showed Mn²⁺ ions (and to a lesser extent, Co²⁺) to activate both the hydantoinase and carbamylase activities. Cu²⁺ ions were observed to inhibit the hydantoinase enzyme. In order to determine the location of the enzymes within the cell, cell debris from disrupted cells of RU-KM3L was removed by centrifugation. A decrease in enzyme activity in the supernatant was observed, and suggested association of the enzymes with the cell membrane. Ammonium sulfate fractionation experiments conducted on the crude extract provided further evidence for this result. Sonication of the crude enzyme extract was the only successful method for the releasing of membrane-associated enzyme. Of a number of strategies investigated, the use of sucrose at 50% (w/v) concentration was shown to preserve the hydantoinase and carbamylase enzyme activities during lyophilisation. Furthermore, assay for these enzyme activities showed the activities to be higher after lyophilisation in the presence of sucrose. However, sucrose did not increase the thermostability of lyophilised crude enzyme extracts. Water-miscible organic solvents at 1% concentration were shown to be inhibitory to the hydantoinase and carbamylase enzymes of RU-KM3L, and the inhibition was also observed to increase with increasing concentrations of these solvents. Hydantoinase activity in the presence of water-immiscible organic solvents was shown to increase with an increase in the hydrophobicity of these solvents, but the activity observed was not significantly higher than activity in the absence of solvent when hydantoin and 5-methylhydantoin were used as substrates. The possibility of reversing the hydantoinase enzyme reaction by water-immiscible organic solvents was investigated, and the results obtained suggested that the reaction could be reversed. It was thought that the partitioning of substrates or products into hydrophobic organic solvents could influence the reaction equilibrium, but the partitioning observed was not sufficient to affect reaction rates. Peptide synthesis was shown to have occurred in small amounts when the hydantoinase reaction was carried out in the presence of water-immiscible organic solvents. In conclusion, the hydantoin-hydrolyzing enzyme activity of a crude extract preparation from the bacterial strain RU-KM3L was characterised at elevated temperatures, and in the presence of watermiscible and -immiscible organic solvents.

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