Autolytic characterization of selected Enterococcal strains, (previously Streptococcal)
Autolysins are enzymes that cleave specific structural components within the bacterial cell wall. They contribute to numerous cellular activities such as cell growth, cell division, peptidoglycan recycling and turnover. In this study, twelve Enterococcal isolates (previously from the genus Streptococcus) were examined for susceptibility to the antibiotics Penicillin G and Vancomycin, using a Disk Diffusion and a Microtitre plate assay. In both methods, all twelve strains were resistant to Vancomycin. Six of these strains were susceptible to Penicillin G. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values were twice that of the disk diffusion assay values. In the presence of antibiotic, the growth rates for the six strains were halved. Autolysins were extracted from the respective cell cultures using a 4% SDS precipitation method. The protein concentrations were calculated and estimated to be within the range of 5.47- to 6.35 μg/μl. Profiles of the SDS precipitate were analyzed on SDS-PAGE. Autolytic proteins were identified and partially analyzed by renaturing SDS-PAGE (zymograms) using gels containing cell wall substrate. Seven lytic bands of molecular weights 25, 30, 50, 63, 75 95 and 145 kDa (designated Autolysin A to G, respectively) were selected for further analysis. The temporal distribution of the enzymes ranged from the mid exponential phase to the early death phase. The seven proteins were blotted onto polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membranes and excised for N-terminal sequencing. Blast analysis of the respective N-terminal sequences showed autolysins A, C, D, E and F to have 100% similarity to the muramidase, amidase and peptidase from S. cremoris, S. suis, S. pneumonia, S. pyogenes and E. faecium, respectively. Biochemical characterization confirmed autolysins A, B, E and F to exhibit muramidase activity, and autolysin C and G to exhibit peptidase activity. Autolysin D displayed 100% similarity to the protein LytA, a peptidoglycan hydrolase that is known to exhibit amidase activity. Blast analysis could not determine any significant similarities for autolysins B and G to previously identified autolysins, thus indicating they may perhaps be novel autolysins.