The thermoalkalophilic lipase from Bacillus thermocatenulatus BTL2 exhibits a low phospholipase activity (lecithin/tributyrin ratio 0.03). A single round of random mutagenesis of the BTL2 gene followed by screening of 6000 transformants on egg-yolk plates identified three variants with 10-12-fold increased phospholipase activities, corresponding to lecithin/tributyrin ratios of 0.16-0.36. All variants were specific for the sn-1 acyl ester bond of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine. Mutations occurred predominantly in the N-terminal part of BTL2 with regions surrounding the predicted helix α4 and lid as hotspots. Two mutations, L184P located in the predicted helix α4 and H15P found in the highly conserved oxy-anion hole motif among hydrolases, were identified to account for increased phospholipase activity. Two of the three variants showed reduced activities towards medium-and long-chain fatty acyl methyl esters compared to the wild-type enzyme. Substitution of Leu353 with Ser, which is located adjacent to the active site histidine and is important for phospholipase activity in the Staphylococcus hyicus lipase, increased the absolute phospholipase activities of the variants, but not of BTL2, approximately 2-fold. The engineered best variant displayed a lecithin/tributyrin ratio of 0.52, corresponding to a 17-fold increase compared to the wild-type enzyme. Moreover, this variant exhibited a 1.5-4-fold higher activity towards long-chain fatty acyl methyl ester (C18:1, C18:2, C18 and C20) compared to BTL2. A second round of mutagenesis and screening on lecithin-plates yielded no new variants with further increased phospholipase/lipase activity ratios, but instead one variant with a 5-fold increased expression rate and two variants with a 3-fold reduced activity towards triolein were obtained.
- Bacillus thermocatenulatus
- Directed evolution