A comparative study of chitin synthase activity in two Mortierella species
Adjimani, Jonanthan P.
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An in vitro investigation of some important factors controlling the activity of chitin synthase in cell-free extracts of two Mortierella species has been carried out. Mixed membrane fractions from mycelial homogenates of Mortierella candelabrum and Mortierella pusilla were found to catalyse the transfer of N-acetylglucosamine from UDP-N-acetylglucosamine into an insoluble product characterized as chitin by its insolubility in weak acid and alkali, and the release of glucosamine and diacetylchitobiose on hydrolysis with a strong acid and chitinase, respectively. Apparent Km values for UDP-GlcNAc were 1.8 mM and 2.0 mM for M. pusilla and ~ candelabrum, respectively. Polyoxin D was found to be a very potent competitive inhibitor with values of the constant of inhibition, Ki' for both species about three orders of magnitude lower than theKm for UDP-GlcNAc. A divalent cation, Mg+2 , Mn+2 or Co+2 , was required for activity. N-acetylglucosamine, the monomer of chitin, stimulated the activity of the enzyme. The crude enzyme preparation of ~ candelabrum, unlike that of ~ pusilla, showed an absolute requirement for both Mg+2 and N-acetylglucosamine. Large differences in response to exogenous proteases were noted in the ratio of active to inactive chitin synthase of the two species. A fifteen fold or greater increase was obtained after treatment with acid protease (from Aspergillussaitoi) as compared to a two- to four-fold activation of the M. pusilla membrane preparation treated similarly. During storage at 4°C over 48 hours, an endogenous activation of chitin synthase of ~ pus ilIa was achieved, comparable to that obtained by exogenous protease treatment. The high speed supernatant of both species inhibited the chitin synthase activity of the mixed membrane fractions. The inhibitor of ~ pus ilIa was effective against the pre-activated enzyme whereas that of M. candelabrum inhibited the activated enzyme. Several possibilities are discussed as to the role of the different factors regulating the enzyme activity. The suggestion is made from the properties of chitin synthase in the two species that in vivo a delicate balance exists between the activation and inactivation of the enzyme which is responsible for the pattern of wall growth of each fungus.