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Molecular cloning, characterization and expression of the endoglucanase C gene of Cellulomonas fimi and properties of the native and recombinant gene products Moser, Bernhard


In addition to substrate-associated cellulases, Cellulomonas fimi secretes endoglucanases ( endo-1, 4-β-D-glucan glucanohydrolases, EC ) which are recovered from the cellulose-free culture supernatant of cells grown on microcrystalline cellulose. Two such enzymes, C3.1 and C3.2 with Mrs of 130'000 and 120'000, respectively, were purified to homogeneity. The two endoglucanases were shown to share the same N-terminal amino acid sequence and to hydrolyze carboxymethylcellulose ( CMC ) with similar efficiencies ( 236u/mg protein for C3.1 and 367u/mg protein for C3.2 ). The recombinant lambda vector L47.1-169 was identified from a C.fimi DNA-lambda library on the basis of hybridization with C3.1/2-specific oligonucleotide probes. The subclone pTZ18R-8 only moderately expressed CMCase activity. The 5'-terminus of cenC ( the gene coding for C3.1/2 ) was localized in the insert by Southern transfer experiments and nucleotide sequence analysis. Results from total C.fimi RNA-DNA hybrid protection analyses defined the boundaries of cenC in pTZ18R-8 and led to the tentative identification of -10 and -35 promoter sequences. To improve the expression of cenC, its entire coding sequence, except for the start codon GTG, was fused in frame to the ATG codon of a synthetic ribosomal binding site ( PTIS ) and placed under the transcriptional control of the lac p/o system. Induction of the resulting clone ( JM101[pTZP-cenC] ) led to impaired growth in liquid cultures because overproduction of CenC inhibited cell division'" and eventually led to cell death. Analysis of cell fractions by SDS-PAGE revealed a dominant ( >10% of total cell extract proteins ), clone-specific protein with a Mr of approximately 140'000 which was found exclusively in the cytoplasmic fraction. Conversely, 60% of the total CMC-hydrolyzing activity was localized in the periplasmic fraction indicating that the export of CenC is required for maximal expression of endoglucanase activity. Isolation of the cellulolytic activities from an osmotic shockate led to the purification to homogeneity of two recombinant cellulases, CenC1 and CenC2, with Mr of 130'000 and 120'000, respectively. Both enzymes hydrolyzed CMC with similar efficiencies ( 278u/mg protein for CenC1 and 390u/mg protein for CenC2 ). In addition, amino acid sequence analyses showed the two enzymes to have the same N-termini as the native enzymes and proved furthermore that the CenC leader peptide was functional in Escherichia coli.

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