Production of an extracellular keratinase from Chryseobacterium sp. growing on raw feathers
Keywords: bacteria, enzyme, keratin, protease.
The strain Chryseobacterium
sp. kr6 shown to be useful for biotechnological purposes such as hydrolysis
of poultry feathers and de-hairing of bovine pelts. The effect of
temperature, initial pH and media composition on protease production
by this keratinolytic strain was studied. The enzyme was produced
between 25 and
Proteolytic enzymes are largely used in the industry for biotechnological applications involving the hydrolysis of protein substrates. Proteases constitute an important fraction of the global enzyme sales, and a relevant part of this market is accounted by bacterial proteases (Rao et al. 1998). Bacterial keratinases are of particular interest because of their action on insoluble keratin substrates, and generally on a broad range of protein substrates (Lin et al. 1995). These enzymes have been studied for de-hairing processes in the leather industry (Raju et al. 1996) and hydrolysis of feather keratin (Lin et al. 1995), which is a by-product generated in huge amounts by the poultry industry. Discarded feathers are currently used to produce feather meal through thermal processing, resulting in a low nutritional value product (Wang and Parsons, 1997). Feather hydrolysates produced by bacterial keratinases have been used as additives for animal feed (Williams et al. 1991). In addition, keratin hydrolysates have potential use as organic fertilizers, production of edible films and rare amino acids (Dalev and Neitchev, 1991; Choi and Nelson, 1996).
Cultivation conditions are essential in successful production of an enzyme, and optimization of parameters such as pH, temperature and media composition is important in developing the cultivation process. Despite all the work that has been done on production of proteolytic enzymes, relatively little information is available on keratinases (Wang and Shih, 1999). This is even more the case for keratinases of Gram-negative bacteria (Sangali and Brandelli, 2000). The Chryseobacterium sp. strain kr6 was isolated from waste of a poultry industry and was capable to completely degrade chicken feathers. Its extracellular keratinase is a metalloprotease with great potential for biotechnological applications (Riffel et al. 2003a). This work describes the effect of temperature, initial pH and substrates on keratinase production by Chryseobacterium sp. kr6 during growth on native feathers.
bacterium Chryseobacterium sp. strain kr6 (LBM 9006) was isolated
and characterized as described by Riffel et al. (2003a).
Brain heart infusion broth (BHI, Difco) medium was used for maintenance
of strain with 20% (v/v) glycerol at
proteolytic activity was monitored as describe previously (Sangali
and Brandelli, 2000). Briefly, 100 μl of enzyme extract was
added to 400 μl of 10 mg ml-1 azokeratin in
inoculum was prepared by streaking a feather meal agar (
influence of temperature on growth and production of protease was
different protein sources were used as substrates, a concentration
All experiments were done in triplicate.
μ = dX/Xdt
where X is the cell concentration in g l-1 and t the time (h).
Specific production rates (qP), defined as the amount of activity produced per gram of cell dry mass and per hour (U g-1 h-1) were calculated during growth from the relation:
qp = dP/Xdt
where P is the activity expressed in U l-1, X the biomass concentration on g l-1 and t the time (h).
strain of Chryseobacterium sp. kr6 grew well and completely
degraded chicken feathers in the medium (Figure
1). This intense feather-degrading activity was achieved in the
range of 25-
maximum specific growth rate (μmax), the doubling
time (td), the yield of specific product formation (YP/X),
and specific production rate (qp), calculated at
the final growth phase are shown in Table 1.
Maximum enzyme activity and enzyme yields were observed at
The effect of various substrates on keratinase production was investigated. Production of keratinase activity was similar when the strain kr6 was grown in raw feathers or feather meal, but decreased with other proteinaceous substrates (Figure 3). The FKB medium was supplemented with carbohydrates and the production of keratinase was then evaluated. The addition of glucose, and markedly sucrose or lactose, resulted in strong inhibition of keratinase synthesis (Figure 3). Other additives such as the surfactants Tween 80 and Triton X-100 also caused reduction in protease yields of about 90% and 75%, respectively.
effect of concentration of three growth substrates on keratinase production
was tested. Keratinase was produced at a similar level at different
concentration of raw feathers and feather meal (Figure
4). Increased amounts of feather and feather meal resulted in
higher bacterial growth, but the cultivation with
The yields for the production of keratinase using three inexpensive common substrates were determined (Table 2). The most effective production was achieved by using feather meal, which is 1.6 fold higher than that in soy meal.
A keratinase was produced by Chryseobacterium sp. kr6 under different growth conditions. This enzyme has been shown to be useful for biotechnological purposes such as hydrolysis of poultry feathers (Riffel et al. 2003a) and de-hairing of bovine pelts (Riffel et al. 2003b).
from Chryseobacterium strains are often produced at mesophilic
temperatures. A metalloprotease of C. indologenes Ix9a (Venter
et al. 1999) and an endopeptidase of Chryseobacterium sp.
(Lijnen et al. 2000) were produced during cultivation
in nutrient broth at
Maximum biomass and keratinase activity were observed from pH 6.0 to 8.0 (Table 1), which agrees with those described for most feather-degrading Bacillus (Wang and Shih, 1999; Suntornsukz and Sutornsukz, 2003). For production of keratinase by B. licheniformis and a recombinant B. subtilis, uncontrolled pH operation was more favorable than the controlled pH operations (Wang and Shih, 1999). The same was observed for alkaline protease production by B. licheniformis (Çalik et al. 2002).
Maximum activities were coinciding with maximum biomass and maximum specific production rates were observed at the exponential growth phase, suggesting that the keratinase of strain kr6 was produced as a primary metabolite (Figure 2).
Carbohydrate inhibition of keratinase production was observed (Figure 3), indicating that this strain has a catabolite repression regulatory mechanism, a common control mechanism for biosynthesis of bacterial proteases (Givskov et al. 1991), including keratinases (Wang and Shih, 1999; Thys et al. 2004). Suitable amounts of some surfactants, such as Tween 80 and Triton X-100, are known to stimulate bacterial enzyme production (Reddy et al. 1999). However, the addition of these detergents into the FKB suppressed bacterial growth and keratinase production (Figure 3), similar to that observed for Bacillus sp. FK46 during submerged cultivation (Suntornsukz and Sutornsukz, 2003).
Although the production of proteases in complex growth media often promotes exuberant growth and high enzyme yields (Johnvesly and Naik, 2001; Joo et al. 2002), their expensive cost makes them unsuitable for a large-scale production. Some less expensive substrates, such as soybean meal, have been successfully used (Wang and Shih, 1999; Joo et al. 2002). It seems more adequate to use raw materials like some wastes from the food industry as a basis of the culture media. The strain kr6 produced higher yields in feather meal and raw feathers, which have been used as good substrates for production of other keratinolytic enzymes (Wang and Shih, 1999; Sangali and Brandelli, 2000).
High substrate concentrations may cause substrate inhibition or repression of keratinase production. This was observed when soy meal was used as substrate, similar to that described by Joo et al. (2002) during protease production by Bacillus horikoshii. This indicates that smaller amounts of substrate are preferred since they result in higher yields of product per substrate (U g-1 substrate). It was previously observed for the strain kr6 that substrate and metabolite levels in the extracellular milieu can regulate enzyme secretion (Riffel et al. 2003a). As the strain grows in soy meal faster than in feather substrates, different kinetics for keratinase production would be expected, depending on the type and amount of substrate.
Keratinases have enormous potential applications in processing waste in the poultry and leather industries. The recent finding that B. licheniformis PWD-1 keratinase cause enzymatic breakdown of prion protein PrPSc (Langeveld et al. 2003) leave open a novel relevant application for broad range keratinases. In this study, the optimum conditions for keratinase synthesis by the Chryseobacterium strain kr6 were determined, which is an essential step for the production of adequate amounts for application in research of feed and other areas.
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