The extracellular poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) depolymerase gene from Alcaligenes faecalis T1 was cloned into Escherichia coli DH1 by using the plasmid pUC8. An A. faecalis T1 genomic library was prepared in E. coli from a partial Sau3AI digest and screened with antibody against the depolymerase. Of the 29 antibody-positive clones, 1 (pDP14), containing about 4 kilobase pairs of A. faecalis T1 DNA, caused expression of a high level of depolymerase activity in E. coli. The enzyme purified from E. coli was not significantly different from the depolymerase of A. faecalis in molecular weight, immunological properties, peptide map, specific activity, or substrate specificity. Most of the expressed enzyme was found to be localized in the periplasmic space of E. coli, although about 10% of the total activity was found in the culture medium. Results of a deletion experiment with pDP14 showed that a large SalI fragment of about 2 kilobase pairs was responsible for expression of the enzyme in E. coli. The nucleotide sequence of the large SalI fragment has been determined. Comparison of the deduced amino terminus with that obtained from sequence analysis of the purified protein indicated that poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) depolymerase exists as a 488-amino-acid precursor with a signal peptide of 27 amino acids
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