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Disruption of the gene encoding the ChiB1 chitinase of Aspergillus fumigatus and characterization of a recombinant gene product.

Jaques A.K., Fukamizo T., Hall D., Barton R.C., Escott G.M., Parkinson T., Hitchcock C.A., Adams D.J.

The gene encoding a major, inducible 45 kDa chitinase of Aspergillus fumigatus was cloned and analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence identified a chitinase of the fungal/bacterial class which was designated ChiB1. Recombinant ChiB1, expressed in Pichia pastoris, was shown to function by a retaining mechanism of action. That is, the beta-conformation of the chitin substrate linkage was preserved in the product in a manner typical of family 18 chitinases. Cleavage patterns with the N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) oligosaccharide substrates GlcNAc(4), GlcNAc(5) and GlcNAc(6) indicated that the predominant reaction involved hydrolysis of GlcNAc(2) from the non-reducing end of each substrate. Products of transglycosylation were also identified in each incubation. Following disruption of chiB1 by gene replacement, growth and morphology of disruptants and of the wild-type strain were essentially identical. However, during the autolytic phase of batch cultures the level of chitinase activity in culture filtrate from a disruptant was much lower than the activity from the wild-type. The search for chitinases with morphogenetic roles in filamentous fungi should perhaps focus on chitinases of the fungal/plant class although such an investigation will be complicated by the identification of at least 11 putative active site domains for family 18 chitinases in the A. fumigatus TIGR database (

Microbiology 149:2931-2939(2003) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]