The role of the alkaline protease (AprA) in pyocyanin production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa was investigated. AprA was overproduced when a plasmid carrying the aprA gene was introduced to an aprA-deletion mutant strain, EG03; thus, aprA-complemented EG03 was used as an overproducing strain. The complemented strain produced higher pyocyanin than the mutant strain in all commercially available media evaluated. Particularly, pyocyanin production was higher in the complemented than in the parental strain in brain-heart infusion and tryptic soy broths. These results suggested that protein degradation products by AprA were utilized for pyocyanin production. Protein-rich media were used in subsequent validation studies. Similar results were obtained when the basal medium was supplemented with casein or skim milk as the sole organic nitrogen source. However, gelatin failed to induce abundant pyocyanin production in the complemented strain, despite the presence of protein degradation products by AprA as assessed by SDS-PAGE. Thus, gelatin degradation products may not be suitable for pyocyanin synthesis. In conclusion, AprA could contribute to pyocyanin production in the presence of several proteins or peptides.
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