Microscopic Visualization of the Enzymatic Degradation of Poly(3HB-co-3HV) and Poly(3HV) Single Crystals by PHA Depolymerases From Pseudomonas lemoignei

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As a complement to previous studies of the enzymatic degradation of folded chain lamellar single crystals of polyhydroxyalkanoates, single crystals of a number of polyhydroxyalkanoates were partially degraded with depolymerases from Pseudomonas lemoignei and examined by transmission electron microscopy. Single crystals of bacterial poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate), bacterial poly(3-hydroxyvalerate), and synthetic poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) with 88% isotactic diads were degraded using purified extracellular PHA-depolymerases from P. lemoignei: PHB-depolymerase A, PHB-depolymerase B, and depolymerases from recombinant E. coli: PHB-depolymerase PhaZ4 (PHB-depolymerase E), PHB-depolymerase PhaZl (PHB-depolymerase C), and PHB-depolymerase PhaZ5 (PHB-depolymerase A). In contrast to previous results with single crystals of bacterial PHB, the predominant effect observed with all crystals was a significant narrowing of the lamellae. This suggests an edge attack mechanism which because of lateral disorder of the crystals leads to a narrowing of the crystalline lamellae as opposed to the splintering effect previously observed. The model suggested for the degradation of single crystals of bacterial PHB by PHB-depolymerases is refined to include the effects of lateral disorder caused by the introduction of valerate or repeat units of opposite stereochemistry into the single crystal.

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