Identification and functional analysis of endopeptidase genes from the genomic sequence of Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ 32

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology






American Society of Microbiology

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Genes encoding three putative endopeptidases were identified from a draft-quality genome sequence of Lactobacillus helveticus CNRZ32 and designated pepO3, pepF, and pepE2. The ability of cell extracts from Escherichia coli DH5α derivatives expressing CNRZ32 endopeptidases PepE, PepE2, PepF, PepO, PepO2, and PepO3 to hydrolyze the model bitter peptides, β-casein (β-CN) (f193-209) and αS1-casein (αS1-CN) (f1-9), under cheese-ripening conditions (pH 5.1, 4% NaCl, and 10°C) was examined. CNRZ32 PepO3 was determined to be a functional paralog of PepO2 and hydrolyzed both peptides, while PepE and PepF had unique specificities towards αS1-CN (f1-9) and β-CN (f193-209), respectively. CNRZ32 PepE2 and PepO did not hydrolyze either peptide under these conditions. To demonstrate the utility of these peptidases in cheese, PepE, PepO2, and PepO3 were expressed in Lactococcus lactis, a common cheese starter, using a high-copy vector pTRKH2 and under the control of the pepO3 promoter. Cell extracts of L. lactis derivatives expressing these peptidases were used to hydrolyze β-CN (f193-209) and αS1-CN (f1-9) under cheese-ripening conditions in single-peptide reactions, in a defined peptide mix, and in Cheddar cheese serum. Peptides αS1-CN (f1-9), αS1-CN (f1-13), and αS1-CN (f1-16) were identified from Cheddar cheese serum and included in the defined peptide mix. Our results demonstrate that in all systems examined, PepO2 and PepO3 had the highest activity with β-CN (f193-209) and αS1-CN (f1-9). Cheese-derived peptides were observed to affect the activity of some of the enzymes examined, underscoring the importance of incorporating such peptides in model systems. These data indicate that L. helveticus CNRZ32 endopeptidases PepO2 and PepO3 are likely to play a key role in this strain's ability to reduce bitterness in cheese.

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