Alcaligenes faecalis penicillin G acylase is more stable than the Escherichia coli enzyme. The activity of the A. faecalis enzyme was not affected by incubation at 50 degrees C for 20 min, whereas more than 50% of the E. coli enzyme was irreversibly inactivated by the same treatment. To study the molecular basis of this higher stability, the A. faecalis enzyme was isolated and its gene was cloned and sequenced. The gene encodes a polypeptide that is characteristic of periplasmic penicillin G acylase (signal peptide-alpha subunit-spacer-beta subunit). Purification, N-terminal amino acid analysis, and molecular mass determination of the penicillin G acylase showed that the alpha and beta subunits have molecular masses of 23.0 and 62.7 kDa, respectively. The length of the spacer is 37 amino acids. Amino acid sequence alignment demonstrated significant homology with the penicillin G acylase from E. coli A unique feature of the A. faecalis enzyme is the presence of two cysteines that form a disulfide bridge. The stability of the A. faecalis penicillin G acylase, but not that of the E. coli enzyme, which has no cysteines, was decreased by a reductant. Thus, the improved thermostability is attributed to the presence of the disulfide bridge.
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