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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 15:303-310 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/ame015303

Ectoaminopeptidase specificity and regulation in Antarctic marine pelagic microbial communities

James R. Christian*, David M. Karl

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
*Present address: Universities Space Research Association, NASA/GSFC, Code 970.2, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Ectoaminopeptidase activities of pelagic marine microbial communities were investigated on several research cruises in the western Antarctic Peninsula region from 1992 to 1994, using the fluorigenic substrate analogue L-leucyl- β-naphthylamine. Km values at in situ temperature were comparable to those observed by other investigators for a variety of aquatic environments. Competitive inhibition by dipeptides of a variety of amino acids showed that the aminopeptidases present were broadly specific; no strong tendency toward greater affinity for hydrophobic or hydrophilic amino acids was observed. Seawater cultures (1.0 μm filtrate) were inoculated with a variety of monomeric organic compounds and incubated for 24 to 72 h prior to activity determination; histidine and phenylalanine were found to consistently inhibit aminopeptidase expression. It is hypothesized that auxotrophy for histidine and phenylalanine may be widespread in these assemblages, giving rise to high levels of constitutive, nonspecific aminopeptidase activity which results in significant respiration of the more common amino acids. Whatever the exact mechanism, aminopeptidase activity is strongly affected by the specific compounds present and not simply by the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.

KEY WORDS: Aminopeptidase · Enzyme specificity · Enzyme regulation · Antarctica

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