Production and characterization of the milk-clotting protease of Myxococcus xanthus strain 422
The cheese industry is seeking novel sources of enzymes for cheese production. Microbial rennets have several advantages over animal rennets. (1) They are easy to generate and purify and do not rely on the availability of animal material. (2) The production of microbial clotting enzymes may be improved by biotechnological techniques. In this work, the biochemical characterization of a novel milk-clotting extracellular enzyme from Myxococcus xanthus strain 422 and a preliminary evaluation of its cheese-producing ability are reported. Strain 422 was selected from four M. xanthus strains as the best producer of extracellular milk-clotting activity, based on both its enzyme yield and specific milk-clotting activity, which also afforded lower titration values than enzymes from the three other M. xanthus strains. The active milk-clotting enzyme from M. xanthus strain 422 is a true milk-clotting enzyme with a molecular mass of 40 kDa and a pI of 5.0. Highest milk-clotting activity was at pH 6 and 37 °C. The enzyme was completely inactivated by heating for 12 min at 65 °C. The crude enzyme preparation was resolved by anion-exchange chromatography into two active fractions that were tested in cheese production assays of compositional (dry matter, fat content, fat content/dry-matter ratio, and moisture-non-fat content) and physicochemical properties (firmness, tensile strength, pH and Aw) of the milk curds obtained. Purified protein fraction II exhibited a significantly higher milk-clotting ability than either protein fraction I or a total protein extract, underlining the potential usefulness of M. xanthus strain 422 as a source of rennet for cheese production.
KeywordsMyxococcus xanthus Milk-clotting proteases Microbial coagulants Industrial fermentations Cheese making Milk curds
The authors express their gratitude to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology for a FEDER grant (no. PIFD97–0046). They also extend their appreciation to the Fundación Ramón Areces for their financial contribution to the pilot-plant fermentation unit.
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