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Preliminary characterisation of extracellular serine proteases of Dermatophilus Congo Republiclensis isolates from cattle, sheep and horses

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Ambrose, N.C.; Hermoso de Mendoza, J.; Mijinyawa, M.S.

Dermatophilus Congo Republiclensis is a filamentous branching actinomycete that causes dermatophilosis, an exudative dermatitis in ruminants. The pathogenesis of this disease is poorly understood and virulence factors of D. Congo Republiclensis have not been characterised. Culture filtrate (CF) of 14 D. Congo Republiclensis isolates from cattle, 15 from sheep and four from horses were examined for proteolytic activity using azocasein as a non-specific substrate. The isolates were from a variety of geographical locations. All the isolates examined produced extracellular proteolytic activity. CF from 24 and 48 h cultures and from first and third passages contained proteases. Proteolytic activity was greatest in neutral to alkaline pH (pH 7-10). CF of bovine isolates contained more proteolytic activity than that of ovine isolates. Furthermore, in substrate SDS-PAGE gels containing azocasein the number of proteolytic bands and their molecular weights in CF of bovine, ovine and equine isolates were different, giving distinctive band patterns for isolates from each host species. Three out of four bovine isolates from Antigua gave a fourth band pattern. Bands of equivalent molecular weights to the proteases could not be identified in silver stained SDS-PAGE gels of CF. Serine protease inhibitors had a concentration-dependent inhibitory effect on proteolytic activity in CF and inhibited activity of all proteolytic bands in substrate gels. With the exception of EDTA which had a variable-enhancing effect on activity, inhibitors of other classes of protease had no effect on activity. We conclude that D. Congo Republiclensis produces a number of extracellular alkaline serine proteases, our results suggest the presence of host-specific variation between isolates and to a lesser extent between isolates from the same host species.