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Open Access Short Report

Expression in E. coli and characterization of the catalytic domain of Botrytis cinerea chitin synthase

Hervé Magellan1, Thierry Drujon1, Annie Thellend1, Annie Piffeteau12 and Hubert F Becker13*

Author Affiliations

1 UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS UMR 7203, Laboratoire des Biomolécules, Paris F-75005, France

2 et Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France

3 Laboratoire d'Optique et Biosciences, INSERM U696, CNRS UMR7645, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:299  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-299

Published: 11 November 2010



Chitin synthase 3a (CHS3a) from Botrytis cinerea (Bc) catalyses the multiple transfer of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residues to the growing chitin chain. Chitin, a β-1,4 linked GlcNAc homopolymer, is an essential cell wall component of filamentous fungi. Chitin synthase, processive membranous protein, has been recognized as a promising target for new antifungicides. Enzymatic characterizations of chitin synthases have been limited, mainly because purity and amounts of integral enzyme obtained after purification procedures have not been sufficient.


We undertook the preparation of two BcCHS3a fragment proteins, containing only the central domain and devoid of the N-terminal and transmembrane C-terminal regions. The central domain of CHS3a, named SGC (

ore), is conserved in all UDP-glycosyltransferases and it is believed to contain the active site of the enzyme. CHS3a-SGC protein was totally expressed as inclusion bodies in Escherichia coli. We performed recombinant CHS3a-SGC purification in denaturing conditions, followed by a refolding step. Although circular dichroism spectra clearly exhibited secondary structures of renatured CHS3a-SGC, no chitin synthase activity was detected. Nevertheless CHS3a-SGC proteins show specific binding for the substrate UDP-GlcNAc with a dissociation constant similar to the Michaelis constant and a major contribution of the uracil moiety for recognition was confirmed.


Milligram-scale quantities of CHS3a-SGC protein with native-like properties such as specific substrate UDP-GlcNAc binding could be easily obtained. These results are encouraging for subsequent heterologous expression of full-length CHS3a.