Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 285–289

Recognition and degradation of chitin by streptomycetes


DOI: 10.1023/A:1012058205158

Cite this article as:
Schrempf, H. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek (2001) 79: 285. doi:10.1023/A:1012058205158


Chitin is the second most abundant renewable polysaccharide, as it is a component of the exoskeleton of many organisms and of the cell walls of numerous fungi. Most streptomycetes secrete a number of chitinases, hydrolyzing chitin to oligomers, chitobiose or N-acetylglucosamine which can be utilized as carbon or nitrogen source. The chitinases of several streptomycetes have been shown to have a modular arrangement comprising catalytic, substrate binding as well as linker domains. Moreover, during growth in the presence of chitin-containing substrates, many Streptomycesstrains have been shown to secrete formerly unknown, small (about 200 aa) chitin binding proteins (CHBs) which lack enzymatic activity and specifically target and invade chitin. Several motifs, including the relative location and spacing of four tryptophan residues, are conserved in the investigated CHB types, CHB1 and CHB2. The affinity of CHB1 to crab shell chitin is two times higher than that of CHB2. Comparative studies of various generated mutant CHB1 proteins led to the conclusion that it is one of the exposed tryptophan residues that directly contributes to the interaction with chitin. On the basis of immunological, biochemical and physiological studies, it can be concluded that the CHBs act like a glue with which streptomycetes target chitin-containing samples or organisms. The ecological implications of these findings are discussed.

biocontrolchitinaseschitin binding proteinschitin-containing fungichitin-containing organisms

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FB Biologie/ChemieUniversitä OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany (E-mail