A Gram-positive bacterium isolated from a soil sample capable of growing on chondroitin sulfate as a carbon source has been isolated. From various bacteriological characteristics, the organism was identified as either an Aureobacterium or a Curtobacterium. When grown on chondroitin sulfate, the bacterium secreted a chondroitinase (EC 220.127.116.11 or EC 18.104.22.168) into the culture medium. The enzyme was purified to homogeneity as demonstrated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and has an apparent molecular weight of about 81,000. It was inhibited by Hg2+, Zn2+, Fe2+ and Cu2+ ions. The enzyme hydrolyzed chondroitin sulfate-A, -C, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, although the hydrolysis rate for hyaluronic acid was low. On the other hand, the enzyme did not act on iduronic acid-containing mucopolysaccharides such as dermatan sulfate, heparin and heparan sulfate. A decrease in viscosity and gel filtration analyses showed that the purified enzyme degrades the substrate endolytically at the initial reaction.
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