Acinetobacter baumannii is a ubiquitous bacteria that is increasingly becoming a formidable nosocomial pathogen. Due to its clinical relevance, studies on the bacteria's secretory molecules especially extracellular proteases are of interest primarily in relation to the enzyme's role in virulence. Besides, favorable properties that extracellular proteases possess may be exploited for commercial use thus there is a need to investigate extracellular proteases from Acinetobacter baumannii to gain insights into their catalytic properties. In this study, an extracellular subtilisin-like serine protease from Acinetobacter baumannii designated as SPSFQ that was isolated from fermented food was recombinantly expressed and characterized. The mature catalytically active form of SPSFQ shared a high percentage sequence identity of 99% to extracellular proteases from clinical isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumoniae as well as a moderately high percentage identity to other bacterial proteases with known keratinolytic and collagenolytic activity. The homology model of mature SPSFQ revealed its structure is composed of 10 β-strands, 8 α-helices, and connecting loops resembling a typical architecture of subtilisin-like α/β motif. SPSFQ is catalytically active at an optimum temperature of 40 °C and pH 9. Its activity is stimulated in the presence of Ca2+ and severely inhibited in the presence of PMSF. SPSFQ also displayed the ability to degrade several tissue-associated protein substrates such as keratin, collagen, and fibrin. Accordingly, our study shed light on the catalytic properties of a previously uncharacterized extracellular serine protease from Acinetobacter baumannii that warrants further investigations into its potential role as a virulence factor in pathogenicity and commercial applications.
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