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1.  Genetic Characterization of pepP, Which Encodes an Aminopeptidase P Whose Deficiency Does Not Affect Lactococcus lactis Growth in Milk, Unlike Deficiency of the X-Prolyl Dipeptidyl Aminopeptidase 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1998;64(11):4591-4595.
We sequenced the pepP gene of Lactococcus lactis, which encodes an aminopeptidase P (PepP), and demonstrated that the X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase PepX plays a more important role than PepP in nitrogen nutrition. PepP shares homology with methionine aminopeptidases and could play a role in the maturation of nascent proteins.
PMCID: PMC106689  PMID: 9797327
2.  Expression of Six Peptidases from Lactobacillus helveticus in Lactococcus lactis 
For development of novel starter strains with improved proteolytic properties, the ability of Lactococcus lactis to produce Lactobacillus helveticus aminopeptidase N (PepN), aminopeptidase C (PepC), X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (PepX), proline iminopeptidase (PepI), prolinase (PepR), and dipeptidase (PepD) was studied by introducing the genes encoding these enzymes into L. lactis MG1363 and its derivatives. According to Northern analyses and enzyme activity measurements, the L. helveticus aminopeptidase genes pepN, pepC, and pepX are expressed under the control of their own promoters in L. lactis. The highest expression level, using a low-copy-number vector, was obtained with the L. helveticus pepN gene, which resulted in a 25-fold increase in PepN activity compared to that of wild-type L. lactis. The L. helveticus pepI gene, residing as a third gene in an operon in its host, was expressed in L. lactis under the control of the L. helveticus pepX promoter. The genetic background of the L. lactis derivatives tested did not affect the expression level of any of the L. helveticus peptidases studied. However, the growth medium used affected both the recombinant peptidase profiles in transformant strains and the resident peptidase activities. The levels of expression of the L. helveticus pepD and pepR clones under the control of their own promoters were below the detection limit in L. lactis. However, substantial amounts of recombinant pepD and PepR activities were obtained in L. lactis when pepD and pepR were expressed under the control of the inducible lactococcal nisA promoter at an optimized nisin concentration.
PMCID: PMC92718  PMID: 11229915
3.  Transcriptional Pattern of Genes Coding for the Proteolytic System of Lactococcus lactis and Evidence for Coordinated Regulation of Key Enzymes by Peptide Supply 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(12):3614-3622.
The transcription of 16 genes encoding 12 peptidases (pepC, pepN, pepX, pepP, pepA, pepF2, pepDA1, pepDA2, pepQ, pepT, pepM, and pepO1), PI and PIII proteinases (prtP1 and prtP3), and three transport systems (dtpT, dtpP, and opp-pepO1) of Lactococcus lactis MG1363 was analyzed in response to different environmental factors. Promoter fusions with luciferase reporter genes and/or mRNA analysis were used to study the effects of sugar sources, growth at 37°C, and peptide supply on the transcription of these genes. Only transcription of the pepP gene is modulated by the source of sugar. The presence of potential catabolite-responsive element (CRE) boxes in its promoter region suggests that expression of this gene is directly controlled by catabolic repression. Elevated temperature had no significant effect on the level of transcription of these genes. prtP1, prtP3, pepC, pepN, pepX, and the opp-pepO1 operon are the most highly expressed genes in chemically defined medium, and their expression is repressed 5- to 150-fold by addition of peptide sources such as Casitone in the medium. Moreover, the transcription of prtP1, prtP3, pepC, pepN, and the opp-pepO1 operon is repressed two- to eight-fold by the dipeptides leucylproline and prolylleucine. The transcription of pepDA2 might also be repressed by the peptide sources, but this effect is not observed on the regulation of dtpT, pepP, pepA, pepF2, pepDA1, pepQ, pepT, pepM, and the dtpP operon. The significance of these results with respect to the functions of different components of the proteolytic system in L. lactis are discussed.
PMCID: PMC95238  PMID: 11371525
4.  Expression of human cationic trypsinogen with an authentic N terminus using intein-mediated splicing in aminopeptidase P (pepP) deficient Escherichia coli 
High-level expression of human trypsinogens as inclusion bodies in Escherichia coli requires deletion of the secretory signal sequence and placement of an initiator methionine at the N terminus. Trypsinogen preparations obtained this way contain a mixture of abnormal N termini, as a result of processing by cytoplasmic aminopeptidases. Here we describe an expression system that produces recombinant human cationic trypsinogen with a native, intact N terminus, using intein-mediated protein splicing and an aminopeptidase P (pepP) deficient Escherichia coli strain. As a first application of this system, the effect of the pancreatitis-associated mutation A16V on the autoactivation of human cationic trypsinogen was characterized. The use of the novel pepP knock-out Escherichia coli strain should be generally applicable to the expression of recombinant proteins, which undergo unwanted N-terminal trimming by aminopeptidase P.
PMCID: PMC1604731  PMID: 16542853
5.  Introduction of Peptidase Genes from Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis into Lactococcus lactis and Controlled Expression 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  1999;65(11):4729-4733.
Peptidases PepI, PepL, PepW, and PepG from Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis, which have no counterparts in Lactococcus lactis, and peptidase PepQ were examined to determine their potential to confer new peptidolytic properties to lactococci. Controllable expression of the corresponding genes (pep genes) was achieved by constructing translational fusions with the promoter of the nisA gene (PnisA). A suitable host strain, UKLc10, was constructed by chromosomal integration of the genes encoding the NisRK two-component system into the fivefold peptidase-deficient mutant IM16 of L. lactis. Recombinants of this strain were used to analyze growth, peptidase activities, peptide utilization, and intracellular protein cleavage products. After nisin induction of PnisA::pep fusions, all of the peptidases were visible as distinct bands in protein gels. Despite the fact that identical transcription and translation signals were used to express the pep genes, the relative amounts of individual peptidases varied considerably. All of the peptidases exhibited activities in extracts of recombinant UKLc10 clones, but only PepL and PepG allowed the clones to utilize specific peptide substrates as sources of essential amino acids. In milk medium, induction of pepG and induction of pepW resulted in growth acceleration. The activities of all five peptidases during growth in milk medium were revealed by high-performance liquid chromatography analyses of intracellular amino acid and peptide pools.
PMCID: PMC91636  PMID: 10543778
6.  Characterization of a thiol-dependent endopeptidase from Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(8):2529-2533.
An endopeptidase gene (pepE) was isolated from a previously constructed genomic library of Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32. The pepE gene consisted of a 1,314-bp open reading frame encoding a putative peptide of 52.1 kDa. Significant identity was found between the deduced amino acid sequence of pepE and the sequences for aminopeptidase C from Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis DSM7290, L. helveticus CNRZ32, Streptococcus thermophilus CNRZ302, and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris AM2. A recombinant PepE fusion protein containing an N-terminal six-histidine tag was constructed and purified to electrophoretic homogeneity. Characterization of PepE revealed that it was a thiol-dependent protease having a monomeric mass of 50 kDa, with optimum temperature, NaCl concentration, and pH for activity at 32 to 37 degrees C, 0.5%, and 4.5, respectively. PepE had significant activity under conditions which simulate those of ripening cheese (10 degrees C, 4% NaCl, pH 5.1). PepE hydrolyzed internal peptide bonds in Met-enkephalin and bradykinin; however, hydrolysis of alpha-, beta-, and kappa-caseins was not detected.
PMCID: PMC179000  PMID: 9098049
7.  Expression of Recombinant Proteins with Uniform N-Termini 
Heterologously expressed proteins in Escherichia coli may undergo unwanted N-terminal processing by methionine and proline aminopeptidases. To overcome this problem, we present a system where the gene of interest is cloned as a fusion to a self-splicing mini-intein. Furthermore, this fusion construct is expressed in an engineered Escherichia coli strain from which the pepP gene coding for aminopeptidase P has been deleted. We describe a protocol using human cationic trypsinogen as an example to demonstrate that recombinant proteins produced in this expression system contain homogeneous, unprocessed N-termini.
PMCID: PMC3107599  PMID: 21125386
Escherichia coli; intein; human cationic trypsinogen; in vitro refolding; ecotin affinity chromatography; aminopeptidase P
8.  Cloning and DNA sequence analysis of an X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase gene from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis NCDO 763. 
Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis NCDO 763 (also designated ML3) possesses an X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (X-PDAP; EC X-PDAP mutants were selected by an enzymatic plate assay on the basis of their inability to hydrolyze an L-phenylalanyl-L-proline-beta-naphthylamide substrate. A DNA bank from L. lactis subsp. lactis NCDO 763 was constructed in one of these X-PDAP mutants, and one clone in which the original X-PDAP phenotype was restored was detected by the enzymatic plate assay. The X-PDAP gene, designated pepXP, was further subcloned and sequenced. It codes for a protein containing 763 residues. Comparison of the amino-terminal sequence of the X-PDAP enzyme with the amino acid sequence deduced from the pepXP gene indicated that the enzyme is not subjected to posttranslational modification or exported via processing of a signal peptide. The pepXP gene from L. lactis subsp. lactis NCDO 763 in more than 99% homologous to the pepXP gene from L. lactis subsp. cremoris P8-2-47 described elsewhere (B. Mayo, J. Kok, K. Venema, W. Bockelmann, M. Teuber, H. Reinke, and G. Venema, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:38-44, 1991) and is also conserved in other lactococcal strains.
PMCID: PMC182662  PMID: 1674656
9.  Characterization of the Recombinant Exopeptidases PepX and PepN from Lactobacillus helveticus ATCC 12046 Important for Food Protein Hydrolysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70055.
The proline-specific X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (PepX; EC and the general aminopeptidase N (PepN; EC from Lactobacillus helveticus ATCC 12046 were produced recombinantly in E. coli BL21(DE3) via bioreactor cultivation. The maximum enzymatic activity obtained for PepX was 800 µkatH-Ala-Pro-pNA L−1, which is approx. 195-fold higher than values published previously. To the best of our knowledge, PepN was expressed in E. coli at high levels for the first time. The PepN activity reached 1,000 µkatH-Ala-pNA L−1. After an automated chromatographic purification, both peptidases were biochemically and kinetically characterized in detail. Substrate inhibition of PepN and product inhibition of both PepX and PepN were discovered for the first time. An apo-enzyme of the Zn2+-dependent PepN was generated, which could be reactivated by several metal ions in the order of Co2+>Zn2+>Mn2+>Ca2+>Mg2+. PepX and PepN exhibited a clear synergistic effect in casein hydrolysis studies. Here, the relative degree of hydrolysis (rDH) was increased by approx. 132%. Due to the remarkable temperature stability at 50°C and the complementary substrate specificities of both peptidases, a future application in food protein hydrolysis might be possible.
PMCID: PMC3716637  PMID: 23894590
10.  Regulatory Phenotyping Reveals Important Diversity within the Species Lactococcus lactis▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(17):5687-5694.
The diversity in regulatory phenotypes among a collection of 84 Lactococcus lactis strains isolated from dairy and nondairy origin was explored. The specific activities of five enzymes were assessed in cell extracts of all strains grown in two different media, a nutritionally rich broth and a relatively poor chemically defined medium. The five investigated enzymes, branched chain aminotransferase (BcaT), aminopeptidase N (PepN), X-prolyl dipeptidyl peptidase (PepX), alpha-hydroxyisocaproic acid dehydrogenase (HicDH), and esterase, are involved in nitrogen and fatty acid metabolism and catalyze key steps in the production of important dairy flavor compounds. The investigated cultures comprise 75 L. lactis subsp. lactis isolates (including 7 L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis isolates) and 9 L. lactis subsp. cremoris isolates. All L. lactis subsp. cremoris and 22 L. lactis subsp. lactis (including 6 L. lactis subsp. lactis biovar diacetylactis) cultures originated from a dairy environment. All other cultures originated from (fermented) plant materials and were isolated at different geographic locations. Correlation analysis of specific enzyme activities revealed significantly different regulatory phenotypes for dairy and nondairy isolates. The enzyme activities in the two investigated media were in general poorly correlated and revealed a high degree of regulatory diversity within this collection of closely related strains. To the best of our knowledge, these results represent the most extensive diversity analysis of regulatory phenotypes within a single bacterial species to date. The presented findings underline the importance of the availability of screening procedures for, e.g., industrially relevant enzyme activities in models closely mimicking application conditions. Moreover, they corroborate the notion that regulatory changes are important drivers of evolution.
PMCID: PMC2737923  PMID: 19592532
11.  Degradation of proline peptides in peptidase-deficient strains of Salmonella typhimurium. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1983;153(1):350-356.
A mutant strain of Salmonella typhimurium that lacks two proline-specific peptidases (peptidases P and Q) could not complete the degradation of proline peptides formed as intermediates in starvation-induced protein breakdown. The wild-type strain produced free proline as the product of degradation of proline-labeled proteins. The pepP pepQ mutant, however, produced a mixture of small proline peptides. In the absence of peptidase Q only, peptidase P could complete the degradation of most of the proline peptide intermediates formed. In the absence of peptidase P only, about 50% of the proline-labeled, acid-soluble products were proline peptides. These results are consistent with in vitro specificity data indicating that peptidase Q hydrolyzes X-Pro dipeptides only, whereas peptidase P attacks both X-Pro dipeptides and longer peptides with X-Pro at their N-termini. A mutant strain lacking four broad-specificity peptidases (peptidases N, A, B, and D), but containing peptidases P and Q, also produced proline peptides as products of protein breakdown. This observation suggests that broad-specificity peptidases are required to generate the X-Pro substrates of peptidases P and Q. A strain lacking six peptidases (N, A, B, D, P, and Q) was constructed and produced less free proline from protein breakdown than either the pepP pepQ strain or the pepN pepA pepB pepD strain. These observations suggest that the degradation of peptide intermediates involves the sequential removal of N-terminal amino acids and requires both broad-specificity aminopeptidases (peptidases N, A, and B) and the X-Pro-specific aminopeptidase, peptidase P.
PMCID: PMC217378  PMID: 6336737
12.  Characterization and overexpression of the Lactococcus lactis pepN gene and localization of its product, aminopeptidase N. 
The chromosomal pepN gene encoding lysyl-aminopeptidase activity in Lactococcus lactis has been identified in a lambda EMBL3 library in Escherichia coli by using an immunological screening with antiserum against a purified aminopeptidase fraction. The pepN gene was localized and subcloned in E. coli on the basis of its expression and hybridization to a mixed-oligonucleotide probe for the previously determine N-terminal amino acid sequence of lysyl-aminopeptidase (P. S. T. Tan and W. N. Konings, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 56:526-532, 1990). The L. lactis pepN gene appeared to complement an E. coli strain carrying a mutation in its pepN gene. High-level expression of the pepN gene in E. coli was obtained by using the T7 system. The overproduction of the 95-kDa aminopeptidase N could be visualized on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels and immunoblots. Cloning of the pepN gene on a multicopy plasmid in L. lactis resulted in a 20-fold increase in lysyl-aminopeptidase activity that corresponded to several percent of total protein. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the 5' region of the pepN gene allowed a comparison between the deduced and determined amino-terminal primary sequences of aminopeptidase N. The results show that the amino terminus of PepN is not processed and does not possess the characteristics of consensus signal sequences, indicating that aminopeptidase N is probably an intracellular protein. The intracellular location of aminopeptidase N in L. lactis was confirmed by immunogold labeling of lactococcal cells.
PMCID: PMC183619  PMID: 1685079
13.  Cloning and analysis of the pepV dipeptidase gene of Lactococcus lactis MG1363. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1997;179(11):3410-3415.
The gene pepV, encoding a dipeptidase from Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris MG1363, was identified in a genomic library in pUC19 in a peptidase-deficient Escherichia coli strain and subsequently sequenced. PepV of L. lactis is enzymatically active in E. coli and hydrolyzes a broad range of dipeptides but no tri-, tetra-, or larger oligopeptides. Northern (RNA) and primer extension analyses indicate that pepV is a monocistronic transcriptional unit starting 24 bases upstream of the AUG translational start codon. The dipeptidase of L. lactis was shown to be similar to the dipeptidase encoded by pepV of L. delbrueckii subsp. lactis, with 46% identity in the deduced amino acid sequences. A PepV-negative mutant of L. lactis was constructed by single-crossover recombination. Growth of the mutant strain in milk was significantly slower than that of the wild type, but the strains ultimately reached the same final cell densities.
PMCID: PMC179130  PMID: 9171382
14.  Tripeptidase gene (pepT) of Lactococcus lactis: molecular cloning and nucleotide sequencing of pepT and construction of a chromosomal deletion mutant. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1994;176(10):2854-2861.
The gene encoding a tripeptidase (pepT) of Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris (formerly subsp. lactis) MG1363 was cloned from a genomic library in pUC19 and subsequently sequenced. The tripeptidase of L. lactis was shown to be homologous to PepT of Salmonella typhimurium with 47.4% identity in the deduced amino acid sequences. L. lactis PepT was enzymatically active in Escherichia coli and allowed growth of a peptidase-negative leucine-auxotrophic E. coli strain by liberation of Leu from a tripeptide. Using a two-step integration-excision system, a pepT-negative mutant of L. lactis was constructed. No differences between the growth of the mutant and that of the wild-type strain in milk or in chemically defined medium with casein as the sole source of essential amino acids were observed.
PMCID: PMC205439  PMID: 8188586
15.  Regulation of Proteolytic Enzyme Activity in Lactococcus lactis 
Two different Lactococcus lactis host strains, L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1363 and L. lactis subsp. cremoris SK1128, both containing plasmid pNZ521, which encodes the extracellular serine proteinase (PrtP) from strain SK110, were used to study the medium and growth-rate-dependent activity of three different enzymes involved in the proteolytic system of lactococci. The activity levels of PrtP and both the intracellular aminopeptidase PepN and the X-prolyl-dipeptidyl aminopeptidase PepXP were studied during batch and continuous cultivation. In both strains, the PrtP activity level was regulated by the peptide content of the medium. The highest activity level was found during growth in milk, and the lowest level was found during growth in the peptide-rich laboratory medium M17. Regulation of the intracellular peptidase activity appeared to be a strain-dependent phenomenon. In cells of strain MG1363, the activity levels of PepN and PepXP were regulated in a similar way to that observed for PrtP. In cells of strain SK1128, the levels of both peptidases were not significantly influenced by the peptide content of the medium. The presence of specific concentrations of the dipeptide prolylleucine could mimic the low activity levels of the regulated proteolytic enzymes, even to the activity level found on M17 medium. The effect of the presence of the dipeptide prolylleucine in the medium on the activity level of the regulated proteolytic enzymes was confirmed at fixed growth rates in chemostat cultures.
PMCID: PMC1388749  PMID: 16535207
16.  Purification and Molecular Characterization of a Tripeptidase (PepT) from Lactobacillus helveticus 
A tripeptidase (PepT) from a thermophilic dairy starter strain of Lactobacillus helveticus was purified by four chromatographic steps. PepT appeared to be a trimeric metallopeptidase with a molecular mass of 150 kDa. PepT exhibited maximum activity against hydrophobic tripeptides, with the highest activity for Met-Gly-Gly (Km, 2.6 mM; Vmax, 80.2 μmol · min−1 · μg−1). Some of the hydrophobic dipeptides were slowly hydrolyzed, distinguishing the Lactobacillus PepT from its counterpart in mesophilic Lactococcus lactis. No activity against tetrapeptides or amino acid p-nitroanilide derivatives was observed. The pepT gene and its flanking regions were isolated by PCR and sequenced by cyclic sequencing. The sequence analyses revealed open reading frames (ORFs) 816 bp (ORF1) and 1,239 bp (ORF2) long. ORF2 encoded a 47-kDa PepT protein which exhibited 53% identity with the PepT from L. lactis. The mRNA analyses indicated that pepT conforms a novel operon structure with an ORF1 located upstream. Several putative −35/−10 regions preceded the operon, but only one transcription start site located downstream of the first putative −10 region was identified. An inverted repeat structure with ΔG of −64.8 kJ/mol was found downstream of the PepT-encoding region.
PMCID: PMC91898  PMID: 10653753
17.  Replacement recombination in Lactococcus lactis. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1991;173(15):4794-4798.
In the pUC18-derived integration plasmid pML336 there is a 5.3-kb chromosomal DNA fragment that carries the X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase gene (pepXP). The gene was inactivated by the insertion of an erythromycin resistance determinant into its coding sequence. Covalently closed circular DNA of pML336 was used for the electrotransformation of Lactococcus lactis. In 2% of the erythromycin-resistant transformants the pepXP gene was inactivated by a double-crossover event (replacement recombination) between pML336 and the L. lactis chromosome. The other transformants in which the pepXP gene had not been inactivated carried a Campbell-type integrated copy of the plasmid. Loss of part of the Campbell-type integrated plasmid via recombination between 1.6-kb nontandem repeats occurred with low frequencies that varied between less than 2.8 x 10(-6) and 8.5 x 10(-6), producing cells with a chromosomal structure like that of cells in which replacement recombination had taken place.
PMCID: PMC208158  PMID: 1906872
18.  X-Prolyl Dipeptidyl Aminopeptidase Gene (pepX) Is Part of the glnRA Operon in Lactobacillus rhamnosus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(1):146-154.
A peptidase gene expressing X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (PepX) activity was cloned from Lactobacillus rhamnosus 1/6 by using the chromogenic substrate l-glycyl-l-prolyl-β-naphthylamide for screening of a genomic library in Escherichia coli. The nucleotide sequence of a 3.5-kb HindIII fragment expressing the peptidase activity revealed one complete open reading frame (ORF) of 2,391 nucleotides. The 797-amino-acid protein encoded by this ORF was shown to be 40, 39, and 36% identical with PepXs from Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, and Lactococcus lactis, respectively. By Northern analysis with a pepX-specific probe, transcripts of 4.5 and 7.0 kb were detected, indicating that pepX is part of a polycistronic operon in L. rhamnosus. Cloning and sequencing of the upstream region of pepX revealed the presence of two ORFs of 360 and 1,338 bp that were shown to be able to encode proteins with high homology to GlnR and GlnA proteins, respectively. By multiple primer extension analyses, the only functional promoter in the pepX region was located 25 nucleotides upstream of glnR. Northern analysis with glnA- and pepX-specific probes indicated that transcription from glnR promoter results in a 2.0-kb dicistronic glnR-glnA transcript and also in a longer read-through polycistronic transcript of 7.0 kb that was detected with both probes in samples from cells in exponential growth phase. The glnA gene was disrupted by a single-crossover recombinant event using a nonreplicative plasmid carrying an internal part of glnA. In the disruption mutant, glnRA-specific transcription was derepressed 10-fold compared to the wild type, but the 7.0-kb transcript was no longer detectable with either the glnA- or pepX-specific probe, demonstrating that pepX is indeed part of glnRA operon in L. rhamnosus. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis further supported this operon structure. An extended stem-loop structure was identified immediately upstream of pepX in the glnA-pepX intergenic region, a sequence that showed homology to a 23S-5S intergenic spacer and to several other L. rhamnosus-related entries in data banks.
PMCID: PMC94251  PMID: 10613874
19.  Enzymatic Ability of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis To Hydrolyze Milk Proteins: Identification and Characterization of Endopeptidase O 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2005;71(12):8460-8465.
The proteolytic system of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis was analyzed, and an intracellular endopeptidase (PepO) was identified and characterized. This work reports the first complete cloning, purification, and characterization of a proteolytic enzyme in Bifidobacterium spp. Aminopeptidase activities (general aminopeptidases, proline iminopeptidase, X-prolyl dipeptidylaminopeptidase) found in cell extracts of B. animalis subsp. lactis were higher for cells that had been grown in a milk-based medium than for those grown in MRS. A high specific proline iminopeptidase activity was observed in B. animalis subsp. lactis. Whole cells and cell wall-bound protein fractions showed no caseinolytic activity; however, the combined action of intracellular proteolytic enzymes could hydrolyze casein fractions rapidly. The endopeptidase activity of B. animalis subsp. lactis was examined in more detail, and the gene encoding an endopeptidase O in B. animalis subsp. lactis was cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli. The deduced amino acid sequence for B. animalis subsp. lactis PepO indicated that it is a member of the M13 peptidase family of zinc metallopeptidases and displays 67.4% sequence homology with the predicted PepO protein from Bifidobacterium longum. The recombinant enzyme was shown to be a 74-kDa monomer. Activity of B. animalis subsp. lactis PepO was found with oligopeptide substrates of at least 5 amino acid residues, such as met-enkephalin, and with larger substrates, such as the 23-amino-acid peptide αs1-casein(f1-23). The predominant peptide bond cleaved by B. animalis subsp. lactis PepO was on the N-terminal side of phenylalanine residues. The enzyme also showed a post-proline secondary cleavage site.
PMCID: PMC1317388  PMID: 16332835
20.  Identification and Characterization of Lactobacillus helveticus PepO2, an Endopeptidase with Post-Proline Specificity 
A post-proline endopeptidase (PepO2) was detected in cell extracts from a genomic library of Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32 by using the synthetic substrate N-acetyl-β-casein-(f203-209)-ρ-nitroanilide in a coupled reaction with aminopeptidase N. Isolates with activity for this substrate contained plasmids with visually indistinguishable restriction profiles. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed a 1,947-bp open reading frame, designated pepO2, encoding a putative 71.4-kDa protein. Analysis of the predicted peptide sequence revealed that L. helveticus PepO2 contained the zinc-dependent metalloprotease motif HEXXH and exhibited levels of amino acid sequence similarity of 72, 61, 59, and 53% to L. helveticus PepO, Lactococcus lactis PepO2, L. lactis PepO, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus PepO, respectively. Northern hybridization results indicated that the transcript containing pepO2 was monocistronic. Despite the high degrees of amino acid similarity to PepO proteins from other lactic acid bacteria, the specificity of the L. helveticus PepO2 for post-proline bonds distinguishes it from other PepO-type endopeptidases characterized to date. The specificity for post-proline bonds also suggests that this enzyme may play a central role in the hydrolysis of casein-derived bitter peptides, such as β-casein(f193-209).
PMCID: PMC143593  PMID: 12571057
21.  The proteolytic system of lactic acid bacteria revisited: a genomic comparison 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:36.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are a group of gram-positive, lactic acid producing Firmicutes. They have been extensively used in food fermentations, including the production of various dairy products. The proteolytic system of LAB converts proteins to peptides and then to amino acids, which is essential for bacterial growth and also contributes significantly to flavor compounds as end-products. Recent developments in high-throughput genome sequencing and comparative genomics hybridization arrays provide us with opportunities to explore the diversity of the proteolytic system in various LAB strains.
We performed a genome-wide comparative genomics analysis of proteolytic system components, including cell-wall bound proteinase, peptide transporters and peptidases, in 22 sequenced LAB strains. The peptidase families PepP/PepQ/PepM, PepD and PepI/PepR/PepL are described as examples of our in silico approach to refine the distinction of subfamilies with different enzymatic activities. Comparison of protein 3D structures of proline peptidases PepI/PepR/PepL and esterase A allowed identification of a conserved core structure, which was then used to improve phylogenetic analysis and functional annotation within this protein superfamily.
The diversity of proteolytic system components in 39 Lactococcus lactis strains was explored using pangenome comparative genome hybridization analysis. Variations were observed in the proteinase PrtP and its maturation protein PrtM, in one of the Opp transport systems and in several peptidases between strains from different Lactococcus subspecies or from different origin.
The improved functional annotation of the proteolytic system components provides an excellent framework for future experimental validations of predicted enzymatic activities. The genome sequence data can be coupled to other "omics" data e.g. transcriptomics and metabolomics for prediction of proteolytic and flavor-forming potential of LAB strains. Such an integrated approach can be used to tune the strain selection process in food fermentations.
PMCID: PMC2827410  PMID: 20078865
22.  Genetic Characterization and Physiological Role of Endopeptidase O from Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32 
A previously identified insert expressing an endopeptidase from a Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32 genomic library was characterized. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed an open reading frame of 1,941 bp encoding a putative protein of 71.2 kDa which contained a zinc-protease motif. Protein homology searches revealed that this enzyme has 40% similarity with endopeptidase O (PepO) from Lactococcus lactis P8-2-47. Northern hybridization revealed that pepO is monocistronic and is expressed throughout the growth phase. CNRZ32 derivatives lacking PepO activity were constructed via gene replacement. Enzyme assays revealed that the PepO mutant had significantly reduced endopeptidase activity when compared to CNRZ32 with two of the three substrates examined. Growth studies indicated that PepO has no detectable effect on growth rate or acid production by Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32 in amino acid defined or skim milk medium.
PMCID: PMC106740  PMID: 9726890
23.  Effect of X-Prolyl Dipeptidyl Aminopeptidase Deficiency on Lactococcus lactis 
The genetic determinant (pepXP) of an X-prolyl dipeptidyl aminopeptidase (PepXP) has recently been cloned and sequenced from both Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris (B. Mayo, J. Kok, K. Venema, W. Bockelmann, M. Teuber, H. Reinke, and G. Venema, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:38-44, 1991) and L. lactis subsp. lactis (M. Nardi, M.-C. Chopin, A. Chopin, M.-M. Cals, and J.-C. Gripon, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57:45-50, 1991). To examine the possible role of the enzyme in the breakdown of caseins required for lactococci to grow in milk, integration vectors have been constructed and used to specifically inactivate the pepXP gene. After inactivation of the gene in L. lactis subsp. lactis MG1363, which is Lac- and Prt-, the Lac+ Prt+ determinants were transferred by conjugation by using L. lactis subsp. lactis 712 as the donor. Since growth of the transconjugants relative to the PepXP+ strains was not retarded in milk, it was concluded that PepXP is not essential for growth in that medium. It was also demonstrated that the open reading frame ORF1, upstream of pepXP, was not required for PepXP activity in L. lactis. A marked difference between metenkephalin degradation patterns was observed after incubation of this pentapeptide with cell extracts obtained from wild-type lactococci and pepXP mutants. Therefore, altered expression of the pepXP-encoded general dipeptidyl aminopeptidase activity may change the peptide composition of fermented milk products.
PMCID: PMC182234  PMID: 16348982
24.  Cloning and sequencing of pepC, a cysteine aminopeptidase gene from Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris AM2. 
A gene coding for an aminopeptidase (PepC) from Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris AM2 was cloned by complementation of an Escherichia coli mutant lacking aminopeptidase activity. The nucleotide sequence was determined. A portion of the predicted amino acid sequence of PepC (436 amino acids) showed strong homology to the active site of cysteine proteases. No signal sequence was found, indicating an intracellular location of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC202100  PMID: 8439160
25.  Alterations of prolyl endopeptidase activity in the plasma of children with autistic spectrum disorders 
BMC Psychiatry  2005;5:27.
Prolyl Endopeptidase (PEP, EC, a cytosolic endopeptidase, hydrolyses peptide bonds on the carboxyl side of proline residue in proteins with a relatively small molecular weight. It has been shown that altered PEP activity is associated with various psychological diseases such as schizophrenia, mania and depression. Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neuropsychiatric and behavioural syndromes affecting social behaviours and communication development. They are classified as developmental disorders. The aim of this study was to examine the hypothesis that PEP activity is also associated with ASDs.
Fluorometric assay was used to measure PEP activity in EDTA plasma in children with ASD (n = 18) aged 4–12 years (mean ± SD: 7.9 ± 2.5). These results were then compared to PEP activity in a control group of non-ASD children (n = 15) aged 2–10 years (mean ± SD: 6.4 ± 2.2).
An alteration in PEP activity was found in the children with ASD compared to the control group. There was much greater variation of PEP activity in the group of ASD children when compared to the controls (SD= 39.9 and SD 9.6, respectively). This variation was significant (p < 0.0005), although the mean level of PEP activity in the group of ASD children was slightly higher than in the control group (124.4 and 134.1, respectively).
Our preliminary finding suggests a role for PEP enzyme in the pathophysiology of autism but further research should be conducted to establish its role in the aetiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including autism and related spectrum disorders.
PMCID: PMC1190193  PMID: 15932649

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