casei). This suggests that yahD and yaiA encode proteins of the same or related biological pathways. In E. faecalis and S. aureus, these operons also encode a predicted regulator. The yaiB gene, on the other hand, is in the same operon only in L. lactis and L. casei, while it is present as an adjacent, divertantly transcribed gene in E. faecalis and B. subtilis. Based on sequence similarity, the yaiA-like genes shown in Fig. 1 have
been annotated as putative glyoxylases. However, a direct demonstration of the function of any of these genes is not available. YahD exhibits 31%, 32%, 34%, 32% and 42% sequence identity with the most homologous proteins aligned in Fig. 2. In all these proteins, there is a conserved catalytic Src inhibitor triad typical of α/β serine hydrolases, characterized by Ser107, Asp157 and His188 of L. lactis YahD. The closest relative of this group of aligned proteins that has been characterized biochemically is EstB of Pseudomonas fluorescence. It shares 17% sequence identity with YahD of L. lactis and functions as a carboxylesterase with maximal hydrolytic activity towards (p-nitro)phenyl acetate (Hong et al., 1991). Because α/β serine hydrolases are an extremely diverse family of enzymes, this does not imply a function for related enzymes. To learn more about the function of YahD of
L. lactis in copper homeostasis and stress selleck chemicals response, we analyzed in vivo expression by Western blot analysis with an antibody against YahD. Expression was upregulated by copper, with maximal expression observed at 200 μM extracellular Cu2+ (Fig. 3). Among other metals tested, 20 μM Cd2+ induced YahD expression to even higher levels than copper, while Ag+ at the same concentration induced YahD only marginally. Zn2+, Fe2+, Ni2+ and Co2+
failed to stimulate YahD expression. Likewise, oxidative stress by 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide or hydrogen peroxide and nitrosative stress by nitrosoglutathione Resveratrol failed to induce YahD. This induction specificity is typical for genes under the control of the CopR copper-inducible repressor and suggests that CopR is the sole regulator governing the expression of YahD. In line with this, Hg2+ and Pb2+ also failed to induce YahD (not shown). To functionally and structurally characterize YahD, the gene was cloned in an expression vector as a fusion protein with a chitin affinity tag, connected to the N-terminus of YahD via a self-cleaving intein. Self-cleavage of the intein with dithiothreitol resulted in YahD with Ala-Gly-His added to the N-terminal methionine. Preparations with >99% purity and of the expected apparent molecular weight of 23.6 kDa were routinely obtained with a yield of 2 mg L−1 of culture (Fig. 4). Purified YahD was highly soluble and stable when stored frozen at −80 °C. Sequencing of the cloned yahD gene revealed two amino acid replacements, M191T and N199K, relative to the L.