The nucleotide sequence of the alanine racemase (EC 126.96.36.199) gene from a thermophile, Bacillus stearothermophilus, was determined by the dideoxy chain termination method with universal and synthetic site-specific primers. The amino acid sequence of the enzyme predicted from the nucleotide sequence was confirmed by peptide sequence information derived from the N-terminal amino acid residues and several tryptic fragments. The alanine racemase gene consists of 1158 base pairs encoding a protein of 386 amino acid residues; the molecular weight of the apoenzyme is estimated as 43 341. The racemase gene of B. stearothermophilus has a closely similar size (1158 vs 1167 base pairs) to that of the gene of a mesophile,B. subtilis but shows a higher preference for codons ending in G or C. A comparison of the amino acid sequence with those of Bacillus subtilis and Salmonella typhimurium dadB and air enzymes revealed overall sequence homologies of 31-54%, including an identical octapeptide bearing the pyridoxal 5'-phosphate binding site. Although the residues common inthe four racemases are not continuously arrayed, these constitute distinct domains and theirhydropathy profiles are very similar. The secondary structure of B. stearothermophilus alanine racemase was predicted from the results obtained by theoretical analysis and circular dichroism measurement.
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