Determination of enzymatic hydrolysis specificity of partially N-acetylated chitosans
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Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-General Subjects 1291 (1): 5 -- 15 (August 1996)

A new method for determining the specificity of hydrolysis of the linear binary heteropolysaccharide chitosan composed of (1-->4)-linked 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-beta-D-glucopyranose (GlcNAc; A-unit) and 2-amino-2-deoxy-beta-D-glucopyranose (GlcN; D-unit) residues is described. The method is based on the assignments of the C-13 chemical shifts of the identity (A- or D-units) of the new reducing and non-reducing ends and the variation in their nearest neighbours, using low molecular weight chitosans with known random distribution of A- and D-units as substrate. A highly N-acetylated chitosan with fraction of acetylated units (F-A) of 0.68 and a number-average degree of polymerization (DPn) of 30 was hydrolysed with hen egg-white lysozyme, showing that both the new reducing and non-reducing ends consisted exclusively of A-units, indicating a high specificity for A-units in subsites D-L and E(L) on lysozyme. Our data suggests that the preceding unit of the reducing A-units is invariable, and based on earlier studies, most probably an A-unit, while the unit following the non-reducing A-units can be either an A- or a D-unit. A more detailed study of the specificity of lysozyme at subsite D-L was performed by hydrolyzing a more deacetylated chitosan (F-A = 0.35 and DPn of 10) to a DPn of 9, showing that even for this chitosan more than 905 of the new reducing ends were acetylated units. Thus, lysozyme depolymerizes partially N-acetylated chitosans by preferentially hydrolyzing sequences of acetylated units bound to site C-L, D-L and E(L) of the active cleft, while there is no specificity between acetylated and deacetylated units to site F-L. In addition, a moderately N-acetylated chitosan with fraction of acetylated units (F-A) of 0.35 and a DPn of 20 was hydrolysed with Bacillus sp. No. 7-M chitosanase, showing that both the new reducing and non-reducing ends consisted exclusively of D-units. Our data suggests that the nearest neigbour to the D-unit at the reducing end is invariable, and based on earlier studies, most probably a D-unit, while the unit following the non-reducing D-units can be tither an A- or a D-unit. We conclude that the Bacillus chitosanase hydrolyzes partially N-acetylated chitosan by preferentially attacking sequences of three consecutive deacetylated units, hypothetical subsites C-C, D-C and E(C), where the cleavage occur between sugar units bound to subsites D-C and E(C). A hypothetical subsite F-C on the chitosanase show no specificity with respect to A- and D-units. The new NMR method described herein offers a time and labour-saving alternative to the procedure of extensive hydrolysis of the binary heteropolysaccharide chitosan and subsequent isolation and characterization of the oligosaccharides.
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