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1.  Densitometry based microassay for the determination of lipase depolymerizing activity on polyhydroxyalkanoate 
AMB Express  2013;3:22.
A novel method for the assay of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA)-degrading ability of triacylglycerol lipases was developed. By applying the natural affinity of lipases towards hydrophobic interfaces, a sensitive and rapid densitometry analysis for the evaluation of hydrolytic activity of lipase droplets towards PHA-coated surface was successfully carried out. We found that 12 out of 14 tested lipases which are of fungal, bacterial and animal origin were able to hydrolyze P(3HB-co-92 mol% 4HB) thin film. The patterns and opacity of the hydrolysis spots of lipases on PHA films allowed easy comparison of PHA-hydrolytic strength of lipases. Lipase from the bacterium Chromobacterium viscosum exhibited the highest PHA-degrading activity. The hydrolytic activity of lipases on water insoluble PHA, emulsified p-nitrophenyl laurate and olive oil were also compared and interestingly some lipases showed better activity when PHA was used as a substrate.
PMCID: PMC3671206  PMID: 23657221
Polyhydroxyalkanoate; Lipase; Densitometry; 4-hydroxybutyrate; Hydrolysis
2.  Revelation of the ability of Burkholderia sp. USM (JCM 15050) PHA synthase to polymerize 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer 
AMB Express  2012;2:41.
The nutrition-versatility of Burkholderia sp. strain USM (JCM 15050) has initiated the studies on the use of this bacterium for polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production. To date, the Burkholderia sp. has been reported to synthesize 3-hydroxybutyrate, 3-hydroxyvalerate and 3-hydroxy-4-methylvalerate monomers. In this study, the PHA biosynthetic genes of this strain were successfully cloned and characterized. The PHA biosynthetic cluster of this strain consisted of a PHA synthase (phaC), β-ketothiolase (phaA), acetoacetyl-CoA reductase (phaB) and PHA synthesis regulator (phaR). The translated products of these genes revealed identities to corresponding proteins of Burkholderia vietnamiensis (99–100 %) and Cupriavidus necator H16 (63–89%). Heterologous expression of phaCBs conferred PHA synthesis to the PHA-negative Cupriavidus necator PHB¯4, confirming that phaCBs encoded functionally active protein. PHA synthase activity measurements revealed that the crude extracts of C. necator PHB¯4 transformant showed higher synthase activity (243 U/g) compared to that of wild-types Burkholderia sp. (151 U/g) and C. necator H16 (180 U/g). Interestingly, the transformant C. necator PHB¯4 harbouring Burkholderia sp. PHA synthase gene accumulated poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-4-hydroxybutyrate) with 4-hydroxybutyrate monomer as high as up to 87 mol% from sodium 4-hydroxybutyrate. The wild type Burkholderia sp. did not have the ability to produce this copolymer.
PMCID: PMC3434029  PMID: 22877240
Biopolymer; Polyhydroxyalkanoate; PHA synthase; PHA operon; Burkholderia sp.
3.  Enhanced Incorporation of 3-Hydroxy-4-Methylvalerate Unit into Biosynthetic Polyhydroxyalkanoate Using Leucine as a Precursor 
AMB Express  2011;1:6.
Ralstonia eutropha PHB-4 expressing Pseudomonas sp. 61-3 polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) synthase 1 (PhaC1Ps) synthesizes PHA copolymer containing 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) and a small amount (0.5 mol%) of 3-hydroxy-4-methylvalerate (3H4MV) from fructose as a carbon source. In this study, enhanced incorporation of 3H4MV into PHA was investigated using branched amino acid leucine as a precursor of 3H4MV. Leucine has the same carbon backbone as 3H4MV and is expected to be a natural and self-producible precursor. We found that the incorporation of 3H4MV was enhanced by the supplementation of excess amount (10 g/L) of leucine in the culture medium. This finding indicates that 3H4MV can be derived from leucine. To increase metabolic flux to leucine biosynthesis in the host strain by eliminating the feedback inhibition, the cells were subjected to N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (NTG) mutagenesis and leucine analog resistant mutants were generated. The mutants showed statistically higher 3H4MV fraction than the parent strain without supplementing leucine. Additionally, by supplying excess amount of leucine, the mutants synthesized 3HB-based PHA copolymer containing 3.1 mol% 3H4MV and 1.2 mol% 3-hydroxyvalerate (3HV) as minor constituents, which significantly affected the thermal properties of the copolymer. This study demonstrates that it is possible to enhance the monomer supply of 3H4MV into PHA by manipulating leucine metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3159905  PMID: 21906338
polyhydroxyalkanoate; copolymer; 3H4MV precursor; leucine analog resistant mutant

Results 1-3 (3)