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1.  4,6-α-Glucanotransferase activity occurs more widespread in Lactobacillus strains and constitutes a separate GH70 subfamily 
Family 70 glycoside hydrolase glucansucrase enzymes exclusively occur in lactic acid bacteria and synthesize a wide range of α-d-glucan (abbreviated as α-glucan) oligo- and polysaccharides. Of the 47 characterized GH70 enzymes, 46 use sucrose as glucose donor. A single GH70 enzyme was recently found to be inactive with sucrose and to utilize maltooligosaccharides [(1→4)-α-d-glucooligosaccharides] as glucose donor substrates for α-glucan synthesis, acting as a 4,6-α-glucanotransferase (4,6-αGT) enzyme. Here, we report the characterization of two further GH70 4,6-αGT enzymes, i.e., from Lactobacillus reuteri strains DSM 20016 and ML1, which use maltooligosaccharides as glucose donor. Both enzymes cleave α1→4 glycosidic linkages and add the released glucose moieties one by one to the non-reducing end of growing linear α-glucan chains via α1→6 glycosidic linkages (α1→4 to α1→6 transfer activity). In this way, they convert pure maltooligosaccharide substrates into linear α-glucan product mixtures with about 50% α1→6 glycosidic bonds (isomalto/maltooligosaccharides). These new α-glucan products may provide an exciting type of carbohydrate for the food industry. The results show that 4,6-αGTs occur more widespread in family GH70 and can be considered as a GH70 subfamily. Sequence analysis allowed identification of amino acid residues in acceptor substrate binding subsites +1 and +2, differing between GH70 GTF and 4,6-αGT enzymes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00253-012-3943-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3536977  PMID: 22361861
α-Glucan; Fiber; Glucansucrase; Glycoside hydrolase; 4,6-α-Glucanotransferase; Isomaltooligosaccharide; Starch
2.  Design of Chimeric Levansucrases with Improved Transglycosylation Activity 
Fructansucrases (FSs), including levansucrases and inulosucrases, are enzymes that synthesize fructose polymers from sucrose by the direct transfer of the fructosyl moiety to a growing polymer chain. These enzymes, particularly the single domain fructansucrases, also possess an important hydrolytic activity, which may account for as much as 70 to 80% of substrate conversion, depending on reaction conditions. Here, we report the construction of four chimeric levansucrases from SacB, a single domain levansucrase produced by Bacillus subtilis. Based on observations derived from the effect of domain deletion in both multidomain fructansucrases and glucansucrases, we attached different extensions to SacB. These extensions included the transitional domain and complete C-terminal domain of Leuconostoc citreum inulosucrase (IslA), Leuconostoc mesenteroides levansucrase (LevC), and a L. mesenteroides glucansucrase (DsrP). It was found that in some cases the hydrolytic activity was reduced to less than 10% of substrate conversion; however, all of the constructs were as stable as SacB. This shift in enzyme specificity was observed even when the SacB catalytic domain was extended only with the transitional region found in multidomain FSs. Specific kinetic analysis revealed that this change in specificity of the SacB chimeric constructs was derived from a 5-fold increase in the transfructosylation kcat and not from a reduction of the hydrolytic kcat, which remained constant.
PMCID: PMC3298123  PMID: 22247149
3.  Use of Specifically Labeled Sucrose for Comparison of Extracellular Glucan and Fructan Metabolism by Oral Streptococci 
Infection and Immunity  1972;5(2):263-266.
Sucrose labeled in the fructosyl (3H) and glucosyl (14C) moieties was used to quantitate extracellular polysaccharide production and degradation by cariogenic and noncariogenic oral streptococci. All of the strains produced glucan and fructan. Streptococcus salivarius produced primarily fructan, whereas S. mutans and S. sanguis produced more glucan than fructan. The cariogenic streptococci could degrade the fructan produced by noncariogenic strains. Although the soluble glucans from all of the strains were sensitive to dextranase, the insoluble glucan from S. mutans could be distinguished from the S. sanguis insoluble glucan by its greater resistance to this enzyme.
PMCID: PMC422359  PMID: 4564402
4.  Biochemical and Structural Characterization of the Glucan and Fructan Exopolysaccharides Synthesized by the Lactobacillus reuteri Wild-Type Strain and by Mutant Strains 
Lactobacillus reuteri LB 121 cells growing on sucrose synthesize large amounts of a glucan (d-glucose) and a fructan (d-fructose) with molecular masses of 3,500 and 150 kDa, respectively. Methylation studies and 13C or 1H nuclear magnetic resonance analysis showed that the glucan has a unique structure consisting of terminal, 4-substituted, 6-substituted, and 4,6-disubstituted α-glucose in a molar ratio of 1.1:2.7:1.5:1.0. The fructan was identified as a (2→6)-β-d-fructofuranan or levan, the first example of levan synthesis by a Lactobacillus species. Strain LB 121 possesses glucansucrase and levansucrase enzymes that occur in a cell-associated and a cell-free state after growth on sucrose, raffinose, or maltose but remain cell associated during growth on glucose. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of sucrose culture supernatants, followed by staining of gels for polysaccharide synthesizing activity with sucrose as a substrate, revealed the presence of a single glucansucrase protein of 146 kDa. Growth of strain LB 121 in chemostat cultures resulted in rapid accumulation of spontaneous exopolysaccharide-negative mutants that had lost both glucansucrase and levansucrase (e.g., strain K-24). Mutants lacking all levansucrase activity specifically emerged following a pH shiftdown (e.g., strain 35-5). Strain 35-5 still possessed glucansucrase and synthesized wild-type glucan.
PMCID: PMC91449  PMID: 10388696
5.  Sucrose Metabolism in Resting-Cell Suspensions of Caries-Associated and Non-Caries-Associated Dental Plaque 
Infection and Immunity  1977;17(1):43-54.
Small specimens of cariogenic plaque (CP) and non-cariogenic plaque (NCP) from the same tooth were individually dispersed in buffer, divided equally, and incubated for 45 min with [14C]sucrose uniformly labeled either in the glucosyl moiety or the fructosyl moiety. Sucrose metabolism was analyzed periodically during an anaerobic incubation at 37°C. Radiochemical techniques were devised to analyze formation of lactic acid, soluble extracellular polysaccharide, total cell-bound and insoluble products, intracellular polysaccharide, lactic acid from intracellular polysaccharide catabolism, insoluble extracellular glucan, CO2, total volatile acids, individual volatile acids, and rates of sucrose consumption. The contribution of the glucosyl and fructosyl moieties of sucrose to each metabolic by-product was determined. All of the metabolic data were adjusted to the size of the plaque specimens as determined by colony-forming units, Coulter counter particle counts, and fluorometric protein analyses. Both types of dental plaque transformed from 70 to 80% of the consumed sucrose into lactic acid and cell-bound and insoluble products, primarily intracellular polysaccharide and extracellular glucan. Volatile acids accounted for most of the remaining by-products. CP metabolized significantly more sucrose than NCP and consequently produced significantly higher levels of each metabolic by-product. High levels of Streptococcus mutans were found in CP (averaging 40% of colony-forming units), whereas it was virtually absent in NCP. Actinomyces and S. sanguis levels were distinctly higher in NCP. NCP harbored more anaerobes and dextranase-forming microorganisms than CP.
PMCID: PMC421079  PMID: 885616
6.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a glucansucrase from the dental caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans  
In this study, the glucansucrase from the dental caries pathogen S. mutans was purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using ammonium sulfate as a precipitant.
Glucansucrases encoded by Streptococcus mutans play essential roles in the synthesis of sticky dental plaques. Based on amino-acid sequence similarity, glucansucrases are classified as members of glycoside hydrolase family 70 (GH 70). Data on the crystal structure of GH 70 glucansucrases have yet to be reported. Here, the GH 70 glucansucrase GTF-SI from S. mutans was overexpressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21 (DE3), purified to homogeneity and crystallized using the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. Orthorhombic GTF-SI crystals belonging to space group P21212 were obtained. A diffraction data set was collected to 2.1 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC2935234  PMID: 20823533
glucansucrase; dental caries; Streptococcus mutans
7.  pKa Modulation of the Acid/Base Catalyst within GH32 and GH68: A Role in Substrate/Inhibitor Specificity? 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37453.
Glycoside hydrolases of families 32 (GH32) and 68 (GH68) belong to clan GH-J, containing hydrolytic enzymes (sucrose/fructans as donor substrates) and fructosyltransferases (sucrose/fructans as donor and acceptor substrates). In GH32 members, some of the sugar substrates can also function as inhibitors, this regulatory aspect further adding to the complexity in enzyme functionalities within this family. Although 3D structural information becomes increasingly available within this clan and huge progress has been made on structure-function relationships, it is not clear why some sugars bind as inhibitors without being catalyzed. Conserved aspartate and glutamate residues are well known to act as nucleophile and acid/bases within this clan. Based on the available 3D structures of enzymes and enzyme-ligand complexes as well as docking simulations, we calculated the pKa of the acid-base before and after substrate binding. The obtained results strongly suggest that most GH-J members show an acid-base catalyst that is not sufficiently protonated before ligand entrance, while the acid-base can be fully protonated when a substrate, but not an inhibitor, enters the catalytic pocket. This provides a new mechanistic insight aiming at understanding the complex substrate and inhibitor specificities observed within the GH-J clan. Moreover, besides the effect of substrate entrance on its own, we strongly suggest that a highly conserved arginine residue (in the RDP motif) rather than the previously proposed Tyr motif (not conserved) provides the proton to increase the pKa of the acid-base catalyst.
PMCID: PMC3360783  PMID: 22662155
8.  Donor substrate recognition in the raffinose-bound E342A mutant of fructosyltransferase Bacillus subtilis levansucrase 
Fructans – β-D-fructofuranosyl polymers with a sucrose starter unit – constitute a carbohydrate reservoir synthesised by a considerable number of bacteria and plant species. Biosynthesis of levan (αGlc(1–2)βFru [(2–6)βFru]n), an abundant form of bacterial fructan, is catalysed by levansucrase (sucrose:2,6-β-D-fructan-6-β-D-fructosyl transferase), utilizing sucrose as the sole substrate. Previously, we described the tertiary structure of Bacillus subtilis levansucrase in the ligand-free and sucrose-bound forms, establishing the mechanistic roles of three invariant carboxylate side chains, Asp86, Asp247 and Glu342, which are central to the double displacement reaction mechanism of fructosyl transfer. Still, the structural determinants of the fructosyl transfer reaction thus far have been only partially defined.
Here, we report high-resolution structures of three levansucrase point mutants, D86A, D247A, and E342A, and that of raffinose-bound levansucrase-E342A. The D86A and D247A substitutions have little effect on the active site geometry. In marked contrast, the E342A mutant reveals conformational flexibility of functionally relevant side chains in the vicinity of the general acid Glu342, including Arg360, a residue required for levan polymerisation. The raffinose-complex reveals a conserved mode of donor substrate binding, involving minimal contacts with the raffinose galactosyl unit, which protrudes out of the active site, and specificity-determining contacts essentially restricted to the sucrosyl moiety.
The present structures, in conjunction with prior biochemical data, lead us to hypothesise that the conformational flexibility of Arg360 is linked to it forming a transient docking site for the fructosyl-acceptor substrate, through an interaction network involving nearby Glu340 and Asn242 at the rim of a central pocket forming the active site.
PMCID: PMC2277421  PMID: 18366639
9.  Molecular Characterization of DSR-E, an α-1,2 Linkage-Synthesizing Dextransucrase with Two Catalytic Domains 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(20):5753-5761.
A novel Leuconostoc mesenteroides NRRL B-1299 dextransucrase gene, dsrE, was isolated, sequenced, and cloned in Escherichia coli, and the recombinant enzyme was shown to be an original glucansucrase which catalyses the synthesis of α-1,6 and α-1,2 linkages. The nucleotide sequence of the dsrE gene consists of an open reading frame of 8,508 bp coding for a 2,835-amino-acid protein with a molecular mass of 313,267 Da. This is twice the average mass of the glucosyltransferases (GTFs) known so far, which is consistent with the presence of an additional catalytic domain located at the carboxy terminus of the protein and of a central glucan-binding domain, which is also significantly longer than in other glucansucrases. From sequence comparison with family 70 and α-amylase enzymes, crucial amino acids involved in the catalytic mechanism were identified, and several original sequences located at some highly conserved regions in GTFs were observed in the second catalytic domain.
PMCID: PMC139595  PMID: 12270834
10.  Dietary carbohydrate source influences molecular fingerprints of the rat faecal microbiota 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:98.
A study was designed to elucidate effects of selected carbohydrates on composition and activity of the intestinal microbiota. Five groups of eight rats were fed a western type diet containing cornstarch (reference group), sucrose, potato starch, inulin (a long- chained fructan) or oligofructose (a short-chained fructan). Fructans are, opposite sucrose and starches, not digestible by mammalian gut enzymes, but are known to be fermentable by specific bacteria in the large intestine.
Animals fed with diets containing potato starch, or either of the fructans had a significantly (p < 0.05) higher caecal weight and lower caecal pH when compared to the reference group, indicating increased fermentation. Selective cultivation from faeces revealed a higher amount of lactic acid bacteria cultivable on Rogosa agar in these animals. Additionally, the fructan groups had a lower amount of coliform bacteria in faeces. In the inulin and oligofructose groups, higher levels of butyrate and propionate, respectively, were measured.
Principal Component Analysis of profiles of the faecal microbiota obtained by Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR amplified bacterial 16S rRNA genes as well as of Reverse Transcriptase-PCR amplified bacterial 16S rRNA resulted in different phylogenetic profiles for each of the five animal groups as revealed by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of band patterns.
Even though sucrose and cornstarch are both easily digestible and are not expected to reach the large intestine, the DGGE band patterns obtained indicated that these carbohydrates indeed affected the composition of bacteria in the large gut. Also the two fructans resulted in completely different molecular fingerprints of the faecal microbiota, indicating that even though they are chemically similar, different intestinal bacteria ferment them. Comparison of DNA-based and RNA-based profiles suggested that two species within the phylum Bacteroidetes were not abundant in numbers but had a particularly high ribosome content in the animals fed with inulin.
PMCID: PMC1693562  PMID: 17137493
11.  The Probiotic Lactobacillus johnsonii NCC 533 Produces High-Molecular-Mass Inulin from Sucrose by Using an Inulosucrase Enzyme▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(11):3426-3433.
Fructansucrase enzymes polymerize the fructose moiety of sucrose into levan or inulin fructans, with β(2-6) and β(2-1) linkages, respectively. The probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus johnsonii strain NCC 533 possesses a single fructansucrase gene (open reading frame AAS08734) annotated as a putative levansucrase precursor. However, 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of the fructan product synthesized in situ revealed that this is of the inulin type. The ftf gene of L. johnsonii was cloned and expressed to elucidate its exact identity. The purified L. johnsonii protein was characterized as an inulosucrase enzyme, producing inulin from sucrose, as identified by 13C NMR analysis. Thin-layer chromatographic analysis of the reaction products showed that InuJ synthesized, besides the inulin polymer, a broad range of fructose oligosaccharides. Maximum InuJ enzyme activity was observed in a pH range of 4.5 to 7.0, decreasing sharply at pH 7.5. InuJ exhibited the highest enzyme activity at 55°C, with a drastic decrease at 60°C. Calcium ions were found to have an important effect on enzyme activity and stability. Kinetic analysis showed that the transfructosylation reaction of the InuJ enzyme does not obey Michaelis-Menten kinetics. The non-Michaelian behavior of InuJ may be attributed to the oligosaccharides that were initially formed in the reaction and which may act as better acceptors than the growing polymer chain. This is only the second example of the isolation and characterization of an inulosucrase enzyme and its inulin (oligosaccharide) product from a Lactobacillus strain. Furthermore, this is the first Lactobacillus strain shown to produce inulin polymer in situ.
PMCID: PMC2423029  PMID: 18408060
12.  In Situ Production of Exopolysaccharides during Sourdough Fermentation by Cereal and Intestinal Isolates of Lactic Acid Bacteria 
EPS formed by lactobacilli in situ during sourdough fermentation may replace hydrocolloids currently used as texturizing, antistaling, or prebiotic additives in bread production. In this study, a screening of >100 strains of cereal-associated and intestinal lactic acid bacteria was performed for the production of exopolysaccharides (EPS) from sucrose. Fifteen strains produced fructan, and four strains produced glucan. It was remarkable that formation of glucan and fructan was most frequently found in intestinal isolates and strains of the species Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus pontis, and Lactobacillus frumenti from type II sourdoughs. By the use of PCR primers derived from conserved amino acid sequences of bacterial levansucrase genes, it was shown that 6 of the 15 fructan-producing lactobacilli and none of 20 glucan producers or EPS-negative strains carried a levansucrase gene. In sourdough fermentations, it was determined whether those strains producing EPS in MRS medium modified as described by Stolz et al. (37) and containing 100 g of sucrose liter−1 as the sole source of carbon also produce the same EPS from sucrose during sourdough fermentation in the presence of 12% sucrose. For all six EPS-producing strains evaluated in sourdough fermentations, in situ production of EPS at levels ranging from 0.5 to 2 g/kg of flour was demonstrated. Production of EPS from sucrose is a metabolic activity that is widespread among sourdough lactic acid bacteria. Thus, the use of these organisms in bread production may allow the replacement of additives.
PMCID: PMC143589  PMID: 12571016
13.  Highly Hydrolytic Reuteransucrase from Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri Strain ATCC 55730 
Lactobacillus reuteri strain ATCC 55730 (LB BIO) was isolated as a pure culture from a Reuteri tablet purchased from the BioGaia company. This probiotic strain produces a soluble glucan (reuteran), in which the majority of the linkages are of the α-(1→4) glucosidic type (∼70%). This reuteran also contains α-(1→6)- linked glucosyl units and 4,6-disubstituted α-glucosyl units at the branching points. The LB BIO glucansucrase gene (gtfO) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, and the GTFO enzyme was purified. The recombinant GTFO enzyme and the LB BIO culture supernatants synthesized identical glucan polymers with respect to linkage type and size distribution. GTFO thus is a reuteransucrase, responsible for synthesis of this reuteran polymer in LB BIO. The preference of GTFO for synthesizing α-(1→4) linkages is also evident from the oligosaccharides produced from sucrose with different acceptor substrates, e.g., isopanose from isomaltose. GTFO has a relatively high hydrolysis/transferase activity ratio. Complete conversion of 100 mM sucrose by GTFO nevertheless yielded large amounts of reuteran, although more than 50% of sucrose was converted into glucose. This is only the second example of the isolation and characterization of a reuteransucrase and its reuteran product, both found in different L. reuteri strains. GTFO synthesizes a reuteran with the highest amount of α-(1→4) linkages reported to date.
PMCID: PMC1169070  PMID: 16000808
14.  4,6-α-Glucanotransferase, a Novel Enzyme That Structurally and Functionally Provides an Evolutionary Link between Glycoside Hydrolase Enzyme Families 13 and 70▿ 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(22):8154-8163.
Lactobacillus reuteri 121 uses the glucosyltransferase A (GTFA) enzyme to convert sucrose into large amounts of the α-d-glucan reuteran, an exopolysaccharide. Upstream of gtfA lies another putative glucansucrase gene, designated gtfB. Previously, we have shown that the purified recombinant GTFB protein/enzyme is inactive with sucrose. Various homologs of gtfB are present in other Lactobacillus strains, including the L. reuteri type strain, DSM 20016, the genome sequence of which is available. Here we report that GTFB is a novel α-glucanotransferase enzyme with disproportionating (cleaving α1→4 and synthesizing α1→6 and α1→4 glycosidic linkages) and α1→6 polymerizing types of activity on maltotetraose and larger maltooligosaccharide substrates (in short, it is a 4,6-α-glucanotransferase). Characterization of the types of compounds synthesized from maltoheptaose by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization–time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), methylation analysis, and 1-dimensional 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed that only linear products were made and that with increasing degrees of polymerization (DP), more α1→6 glycosidic linkages were introduced into the final products, ranging from 18% in the incubation mixture to 33% in an enriched fraction. In view of its primary structure, GTFB clearly is a member of the glycoside hydrolase 70 (GH70) family, comprising enzymes with a permuted (β/α)8 barrel that use sucrose to synthesize α-d-glucan polymers. The GTFB enzyme reaction and product specificities, however, are novel for the GH70 family, resembling those of the GH13 α-amylase type of enzymes in using maltooligosaccharides as substrates but differing in introducing a series of α1→6 glycosidic linkages into linear oligosaccharide products. We conclude that GTFB represents a novel evolutionary intermediate between the GH13 and GH70 enzyme families, and we speculate about its origin.
PMCID: PMC3209003  PMID: 21948833
15.  Mutagenesis of Asp-569 of Glucosyltransferase I Glucansucrase Modulates Glucan and Oligosaccharide Synthesis 
Glucansucrases of oral streptococci and Leuconostoc mesenteroides are enzymes of medical and biotechnological interest that synthesize α-glucans. They can also synthesize oligosaccharides in the presence of a sugar acceptor. Previous reports have identified an amino acid residue that may affect the structure of the glucan product; therefore, random mutagenesis of the corresponding Asp-569 of Streptococcus downei glucosyltransferase I (GTF-I) was used to further understanding of its involvement in the catalytic mechanism and to evaluate how different amino acids can modulate glucan and oligosaccharide synthesis. GTF-I variants were obtained where Asp-569 was replaced by each of the different possible classes of amino acids. These were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by means of a His6 tag. The results showed that the amino acid in position 569 influences the structure of the glucan and the size of the oligosaccharides produced by GTF-I. The results suggest that the amino acid occupying this position is more likely to interact with the acceptor molecules (oligosaccharides or elongating glucan chain) than to be directly involved in glucosyl transfer from sucrose. Engineering of the equivalent position in glucansucrases thus appears to be a good target to expand the range of oligosaccharides synthesized.
PMCID: PMC101434  PMID: 10788361
16.  Characterization of a Novel Fructosyltransferase from Lactobacillus reuteri That Synthesizes High-Molecular-Weight Inulin and Inulin Oligosaccharides 
Fructosyltransferase (FTF) enzymes produce fructose polymers (fructans) from sucrose. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of an FTF-encoding gene from Lactobacillus reuteri strain 121. A C-terminally truncated version of the ftf gene was successfully expressed in Escherichia coli. When incubated with sucrose, the purified recombinant FTF enzyme produced large amounts of fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) with β-(2→1)-linked fructosyl units, plus a high-molecular-weight fructan polymer (>107) with β-(2→1) linkages (an inulin). FOS, but not inulin, was found in supernatants of L. reuteri strain 121 cultures grown on medium containing sucrose. Bacterial inulin production has been reported for only Streptococcus mutans strains. FOS production has been reported for a few bacterial strains. This paper reports the first-time isolation and molecular characterization of (i) a Lactobacillus ftf gene, (ii) an inulosucrase associated with a generally regarded as safe bacterium, (iii) an FTF enzyme synthesizing both a high molecular weight inulin and FOS, and (iv) an FTF protein containing a cell wall-anchoring LPXTG motif. The biological relevance and potential health benefits of an inulosucrase associated with an L. reuteri strain remain to be established.
PMCID: PMC124061  PMID: 12200292
17.  Conserved Repeat Motifs and Glucan Binding by Glucansucrases of Oral Streptococci and Leuconostoc mesenteroides 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(24):8301-8308.
Glucansucrases of oral streptococci and Leuconostoc mesenteroides have a common pattern of structural organization and characteristically contain a domain with a series of tandem amino acid repeats in which certain residues are highly conserved, particularly aromatic amino acids and glycine. In some glucosyltransferases (GTFs) the repeat region has been identified as a glucan binding domain (GBD). Such GBDs are also found in several glucan binding proteins (GBP) of oral streptococci that do not have glucansucrase activity. Alignment of the amino acid sequences of 20 glucansucrases and GBP showed the widespread conservation of the 33-residue A repeat first identified in GtfI of Streptococcus downei. Site-directed mutagenesis of individual highly conserved residues in recombinant GBD of GtfI demonstrated the importance of the first tryptophan and the tyrosine-phenylalanine pair in the binding of dextran, as well as the essential contribution of a basic residue (arginine or lysine). A microplate binding assay was developed to measure the binding affinity of recombinant GBDs. GBD of GtfI was shown to be capable of binding glucans with predominantly α-1,3 or α-1,6 links, as well as alternating α-1,3 and α-1,6 links (alternan). Western blot experiments using biotinylated dextran or alternan as probes demonstrated a difference between the binding of streptococcal GTF and GBP and that of Leuconostoc glucansucrases. Experimental data and bioinformatics analysis showed that the A repeat motif is distinct from the 20-residue CW motif, which also has conserved aromatic amino acids and glycine and which occurs in the choline-binding proteins of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other organisms.
PMCID: PMC532428  PMID: 15576779
18.  An acceptor-substrate binding site determining glycosyl transfer emerges from mutant analysis of a plant vacuolar invertase and a fructosyltransferase 
Plant Molecular Biology  2008;69(1-2):47-56.
Glycoside hydrolase family 32 (GH32) harbors hydrolyzing and transglycosylating enzymes that are highly homologous in their primary structure. Eight amino acids dispersed along the sequence correlated with either hydrolase or glycosyltransferase activity. These were mutated in onion vacuolar invertase (acINV) according to the residue in festuca sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyltransferase (saSST) and vice versa. acINV(W440Y) doubles transferase capacity. Reciprocally, saSST(C223N) and saSST(F362Y) double hydrolysis. SaSST(N425S) shows a hydrolyzing activity three to four times its transferase activity. Interestingly, modeling acINV and saSST according to the 3D structure of crystallized GH32 enzymes indicates that mutations saSST(N425S), acINV(W440Y), and the previously reported acINV(W161Y) reside very close together at the surface in the entrance of the active-site pocket. Residues in- and outside the sucrose-binding box determine hydrolase and transferase capabilities of GH32 enzymes. Modeling suggests that residues dispersed along the sequence identify a location for acceptor-substrate binding in the 3D structure of fructosyltransferases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11103-008-9404-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2709226  PMID: 18821058
Invertase; Fructosyltransferase; Sucrose; Transglycosylation; Site-directed mutagenesis; Molecular modeling
19.  Preferential Utilization of the Glucosyl Moiety of Sucrose by a Cariogenic Strain of Streptococcus mutans 
Infection and Immunity  1972;5(4):531-536.
The utilization of sucrose by a cariogenic strain of Streptococcus mutans was studied. The soluble and cell-bound sucrose-dependent, polymer-forming sucrase activities constitutively produced by the bacteria during growth on glucose were measured. About eight times more dextransucrase activity was present than levan-sucrase activity. During various states of growth on sucrose, S. mutans accumulated two to five times more insoluble and water-soluble dextran than levan. Although more of the fructosyl moiety of sucrose was therefore available to the cells, the glucosyl portion of the disaccharide was preferentially incorporated into cellular macromolecules. Glucose was shown to inhibit the utilization of fructose by S. mutans.
PMCID: PMC422402  PMID: 4636786
20.  16S rRNA-Based Identification of a Glucan-Hyperproducing Weissella confusa 
Enzyme Research  2011;2011:250842.
A gram-positive, nonmotile, irregular, short, rod-shaped new strain of Weissella confusa bacterium was isolated from fermented cabbage. The isolate was physiologically and biochemically characterised. The 16S rDNA was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The isolate was identified as Weissella confusa (GenBank accession number: GU138518.1) based on nucleotide homology and phylogenetic analysis. The isolate produces glucansucrase when grown in sucrose-supplemented culture medium which catalyses glucan formation. This novel isolate possesses high capacity of industrial use due to its high productivity of glucan (34 mg/mL) as compared to other strains reported. The optimum temperature for glucansucrase production was 25°C. The shaking condition gave an enzyme activity of 6.1 U/mL which was 1.5 times higher than that given by static condition (4.1 U/mL). The temperature 35°C, pH 5.4, and ionic strength 10–20 mM were optimum for enzyme assay. This investigation unraveled the abundance of industrially valuable microflora of the north east India.
PMCID: PMC3092518  PMID: 21603260
21.  Two Novel, Putatively Cell Wall-Associated and Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-Anchored α-Glucanotransferase Enzymes of Aspergillus niger▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2007;6(7):1178-1188.
In the genome sequence of Aspergillus niger CBS 513.88, three genes were identified with high similarity to fungal α-amylases. The protein sequences derived from these genes were different in two ways from all described fungal α-amylases: they were predicted to be glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchored, and some highly conserved amino acids of enzymes in the α-amylase family were absent. We expressed two of these enzymes in a suitable A. niger strain and characterized the purified proteins. Both enzymes showed transglycosylation activity on donor substrates with α-(1,4)-glycosidic bonds and at least five anhydroglucose units. The enzymes, designated AgtA and AgtB, produced new α-(1,4)-glycosidic bonds and therefore belong to the group of the 4-α-glucanotransferases (EC Their reaction products reached a degree of polymerization of at least 30. Maltose and larger maltooligosaccharides were the most efficient acceptor substrates, although AgtA also used small nigerooligosaccharides containing α-(1,3)-glycosidic bonds as acceptor substrate. An agtA knockout of A. niger showed an increased susceptibility towards the cell wall-disrupting compound calcofluor white, indicating a cell wall integrity defect in this strain. Homologues of AgtA and AgtB are present in other fungal species with α-glucans in their cell walls, but not in yeast species lacking cell wall α-glucan. Possible roles for these enzymes in the synthesis and/or maintenance of the fungal cell wall are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1951109  PMID: 17496125
22.  Comprehensive Mutational Analysis of Sucrose-Metabolizing Pathways in Streptococcus mutans Reveals Novel Roles for the Sucrose Phosphotransferase System Permease 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(4):833-843.
Sucrose is perhaps the most efficient carbohydrate for the promotion of dental caries in humans, and the primary caries pathogen Streptococcus mutans encodes multiple enzymes involved in the metabolism of this disaccharide. Here, we engineered a series of mutants lacking individual or combinations of sucrolytic pathways to understand the control of sucrose catabolism and to determine whether as-yet-undisclosed pathways for sucrose utilization were present in S. mutans. Growth phenotypes indicated that gtfBCD (encoding glucan exopolysaccharide synthases), ftf (encoding the fructan exopolysaccharide synthase), and the scrAB pathway (sugar-phosphotransferase system [PTS] permease and sucrose-6-PO4 hydrolase) constitute the majority of the sucrose-catabolizing activity; however, mutations in any one of these genes alone did not affect planktonic growth on sucrose. The multiple-sugar metabolism pathway (msm) contributed minimally to growth on sucrose. Notably, a mutant lacking gtfBC, which cannot produce water-insoluble glucan, displayed improved planktonic growth on sucrose. Meanwhile, loss of scrA led to growth stimulation on fructooligosaccharides, due in large part to increased expression of the fruAB (fructanase) operon. Using the LevQRST four-component signal transduction system as a model for carbohydrate-dependent gene expression in strains lacking extracellular sucrases, a PlevD-cat (EIIALev) reporter was activated by pulsing with sucrose. Interestingly, ScrA was required for activation of levD expression by sucrose through components of the LevQRST complex, but not for activation by the cognate LevQRST sugars fructose or mannose. Sucrose-dependent catabolite repression was also evident in strains containing an intact sucrose PTS. Collectively, these results reveal a novel regulatory circuitry for the control of sucrose catabolism, with a central role for ScrA.
PMCID: PMC3562097  PMID: 23222725
23.  Cloning, sequencing, and disruption of a levanase gene of Bacillus polymyxa CF43. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(8):2177-2183.
The Bacillus polymyxa CF43 lelA gene, expressing both sucrose and fructan hydrolase activities, was isolated from a genomic library of B. polymyxa screened in Bacillus subtilis. The gene was detected as expressing sucrose hydrolase activity; B. subtilis transformants did not secrete the lelA gene product (LelA) into the extracellular medium. A 1.7-kb DNA fragment sufficient for lelA expression in Escherichia coli was sequenced. It contains a 548-codon open reading frame. The deduced amino acid sequence shows 54% identity with mature B. subtilis levanase and is similar to other fructanases and sucrases (beta-D-fructosyltransferases). Multiple-sequence alignment of 14 of these proteins revealed several previously unreported features. LelA appears to be a 512-amino-acid polypeptide containing no canonical signal peptide. The hydrolytic activities of LelA on sucrose, levan, and inulin were compared with those of B. subtilis levanase and sucrase, confirming that LelA is indeed a fructanase. The lelA gene in the chromosome of B. polymyxa was disrupted with a chloramphenicol resistance gene (cat) by "inter-gramic" conjugation: the lelA::cat insertion on a mobilizable plasmid was transferred from an E. coli transformant to B. polymyxa CF43, and B. polymyxa transconjugants containing the lelA::cat construct replacing the wild-type lelA gene in their chromosomes were selected directly. The growth of the mutant strain on levan, inulin, and sucrose was not affected.
PMCID: PMC205337  PMID: 8157587
24.  Evolution of Cariogenic Character in Streptococcus mutans: Horizontal Transmission of Glycosyl Hydrolase Family 70 Genes 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:518.
Acquisition of the ability to produce polysaccharides from sucrose, i.e. the gtf gene encoding glucosyltransferase (GTF), is the key evolutionary event enabling dental biofilm formation by streptococci. To clarify the ancestry of streptococcal GTFs, time of its occurrence, and order of specific events, we investigated the distribution of GTFs among bacteria by phylogenetic analysis of the glycosyl hydrolase family 70 enzymes. We found that streptococcal GTFs were derived from other lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc, and propose the following evolutionary model: horizontal gene transfer via transposons occurred when streptococci encountered lactic acid bacteria contained in fermented food. Intra-genomic gene duplication occurred by a secondary selection pressure such as consumption of refined sugar. Our findings concerning this evolution in Streptococcus mutans provide an important background for studies of the relationship between the historical spread of dental caries and anthropological factors.
PMCID: PMC3399136  PMID: 22816041
25.  Phylogenetic Analysis of Glucosyltransferases and Implications for the Coevolution of Mutans Streptococci with Their Mammalian Hosts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56305.
Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) catalyze the synthesis of glucans from sucrose and are produced by several species of lactic-acid bacteria. The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans produces large amounts of glucans through the action of three Gtfs. GtfD produces water-soluble glucan (WSG), GtfB synthesizes water-insoluble glucans (WIG) and GtfC produces mainly WIG but also WSG. These enzymes, especially those synthesizing WIG, are of particular interest because of their role in the formation of dental plaque, an environment where S. mutans can thrive and produce lactic acid, promoting the formation of dental caries. We sequenced the gtfB, gtfC and gtfD genes from several mutans streptococcal strains isolated from the oral cavity of humans and searched for their homologues in strains isolated from chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. The sequence data were analyzed in conjunction with the available Gtf sequences from other bacteria in the genera Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc to gain insights into the evolutionary history of this family of enzymes, with a particular emphasis on S. mutans Gtfs. Our analyses indicate that streptococcal Gtfs arose from a common ancestral progenitor gene, and that they expanded to form two clades according to the type of glucan they synthesize. We also show that the clade of streptococcal Gtfs synthesizing WIG appeared shortly after the divergence of viviparous, dentate mammals, which potentially contributed to the formation of dental plaque and the establishment of several streptococci in the oral cavity. The two S. mutans Gtfs capable of WIG synthesis, GtfB and GtfC, are likely the product of a gene duplication event. We dated this event to coincide with the divergence of the genomes of ancestral early primates. Thus, the acquisition and diversification of S. mutans Gtfs predates modern humans and is unrelated to the increase in dietary sucrose consumption.
PMCID: PMC3572963  PMID: 23457545

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