The sapB gene, encoding Bacillus pumilus CBS protease, and seven mutated genes (sapB-L31I, sapB-T33S, sapB-N99Y, sapBL31I/T33S, sapB-L31I/N99Y, sapB-T33S/N99Y, and sapB-L31I/T33S/N99Y) were overexpressed in protease-deficient Bacillus subtilis DB430 and purified to homogeneity. SAPB-N99Y and rSAPB displayed the highest levels of keratinolytic activity, hydrolysis efficiency, and enzymatic depilation. Interestingly, and at the semi-industrial scale, rSAPB efficiently removed the hair of goat hides within a short time interval of 8 h, thus offering a promising opportunity for the attainment of a lime and sulphide-free depilation process. The efficacy of the process was supported by submitting depilated pelts and dyed crusts to scanning electron microscopic analysis, and the results showed well opened fibre bundles and no apparent damage to the collagen layer. The findings also revealed better physico-chemical properties and less effluent loads, which further confirmed the potential candidacy of the rSAPB enzyme for application in the leather industry to attain an ecofriendly process of animal hide depilation. More interestingly, the findings on the substrate specificity and kinetic properties of the enzyme using the synthetic peptide para-nitroanilide revealed strong preferences for an aliphatic amino-acid (valine) at position P1 for keratinases and an aromatic amino-acid (phenylalanine) at positions P1/P4 for subtilisins. Molecular modeling suggested the potential involvement of a Leu31 residue in a network of hydrophobic interactions, which could have shaped the S4 substrate binding site. The latter could be enlarged by mutating L31I, fitting more easily in position P4 than a phenylalanine residue. The molecular modeling of SAPB-T33S showed a potential S2 subside widening by a T33S mutation, thus suggesting its importance in substrate specificity.
Jaouadi, N. Z., Jaouadi, B., Hlima, H. B., Rekik, H., Belhoul, M., Hmidi, M., … Bejar, S. (2014). Probing the crucial role of leu31 and thr33 of the bacillus pumilus cbs alkaline protease in substrate recognition and enzymatic depilation of animal hide. PLoS ONE, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108367