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The Fusobacterium mortiferum malH gene, encoding 6-phospho-alpha-glucosidase (maltose 6-phosphate hydrolase; EC 22.214.171.124), has been isolated, characterized, and expressed in Escherichia coli. The relative molecular weight of the polypeptide encoded by malH (441 residues; Mr of 49,718) was in agreement with the estimated value (approximately 49,000) obtained by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis for the enzyme purified from F. mortiferum. The N-terminal sequence of the MalH protein obtained by Edman degradation corresponded to the first 32 amino acids deduced from the malH sequence. The enzyme produced by the strain carrying the cloned malH gene cleaved [U-14C]maltose 6-phosphate to glucose 6-phosphate (Glc6P) and glucose. The substrate analogs p-nitrophenyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside 6-phosphate (pNP alphaGlc6P) and 4-methylumbelliferyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside 6-phosphate (4MU alphaGlc6P) were hydrolyzed to yield Glc6P and the yellow p-nitrophenolate and fluorescent 4-methylumbelliferyl aglycons, respectively. The 6-phospho-alpha-glucosidase expressed in E. coli (like the enzyme purified from F. mortiferum) required Fe2+, Mn2+, Co2+, or Ni2+ for activity and was inhibited in air. Synthesis of maltose 6-phosphate hydrolase from the cloned malH gene in E. coli was modulated by addition of various sugars to the growth medium. Computer-based analyses of MalH and its homologs revealed that the phospho-alpha-glucosidase from F. mortiferum belongs to the seven-member family 4 of the glycosylhydrolase superfamily. The cloned 2.2-kb Sau3AI DNA fragment from F. mortiferum contained a second partial open reading frame of 83 residues (designated malB) that was located immediately upstream of malH. The high degree of sequence identity of MalB with IIB(Glc)-like proteins of the phosphoenol pyruvate dependent:sugar phosphotransferase system suggests participation of MalB in translocation of maltose and related alpha-glucosides in F. mortiferum.