Phytopathogenic bacteria cause tissue maceration by secretion of pectinolytic enzymes such as pectate lyase (PL). Sequencing of overlapping genomic fragments from subsp. established the organization of a 7·5 kbp region encoding PL isoenzymes. Two intergenic regions of 656 and 645 bp separate three enzyme coding regions of 1125 bp exhibiting approximately 80% positional identity. The promoters of each of the three genes contain a segment with high homology to the binding sequence of the KdgR transcription repressor, implying similar mechanisms of gene regulation in the two bacterial species. Separate expression of the genes in the -pT7-7 system and purification of their products yielded PLs at 7-33 mg (I culture) with greater than 95% purity. Availability of the recombinant enzymes allowed determination of the kinetic differences amongst the PL isoforms, PL1, PL2 and PL3. The results show that PL is not strictly confined to depolymerization of pectate since each isoenzyme more readily degrades 31 % esterified pectin. Addition of isoenzyme combinations revealed no synergism with respect to degradation of pectate or 31% esterified pectin. However, addition of enzyme combinations containing PL3 enhanced the activity towards 68% esterified pectin, against which individual PL activities were low, by up to 64%. These data suggest that the combination of PL isoenzymes extends the range of pectic substrates which the bacterium can degrade.


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