Purification and partial characterization of a toxic serine protease produced by pathogenic Vibrio alginolyticus

F R Chen, P C Liu, K K Lee
Microbios 1999, 98 (390): 95-111
An extracellular lethal toxin produced by Vibrio alginolyticus strain Swy originally isolated from diseased kuruma prawn (Penaeus japonicus) was purified using the AKTA purifier system with hydrophobic interaction chromatography, anion exchange and gel filtration columns. The toxin is an alkaline serine protease, inhibited by phenyl methylsulphonyl fluoride (PMSF), antipain and shows maximal activity at pH 8 to 11, having a pI of 4.3 and a molecular weight of approximately 33 kD. The toxin was completely inhibited by FeCl2 but partially inhibited by 3,4-dichloroisocoumarin (3,4-DCI), ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA), ethylene glycol-bis(beta-amino-ethyl ether) N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (EGTA), CuCl2 and ZnCl2. The purified protease was lethal for kuruma prawn at an LD50 of 0.29 microgram protein/g body weight. The haemolymph withdrawn from the moribund prawns injected with the toxic protease was unable to clot. The coagulogen in the kuruma prawn plasma showed an increased migration rate after incubation with this serine protease, and a plasma colour change from blue to pink was recorded. The addition of PMSF completely inhibited the lethal toxicity of the purified protease, indicating that this serine protease was a lethal toxin produced by the bacterium. The 33 kD protease was therefore a toxic protease produced by V. alginolyticus strain Swy.

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