N-acetyl-β-hexosaminidase activity is important for chitooligosaccharide metabolism and biofilm formation in Burkholderia pseudomallei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Burkholderia pseudomallei is a saprophytic Gram-negative bacillus that can cause the disease melioidosis. Although B. pseudomallei is a recognised member of terrestrial soil microbiomes, little is known about its contribution to the saprophytic degradation of polysaccharides within its niche. For example, while chitin is predicted to be abundant within terrestrial soils the chitinolytic capacity of B. pseudomallei is yet to be defined. This study identifies and characterises a putative glycoside hydrolase, bpsl0500, which is expressed by B. pseudomallei K96243. Recombinant BPSL0500 was found to exhibit activity against substrate analogues and GlcNAc disaccharides relevant to chitinolytic N-acetyl-β-d-hexosaminidases. In B. pseudomallei, bpsl0500 was found to be essential for both N-acetyl-β-d-hexosaminidase activity and chitooligosaccharide metabolism. Furthermore, bpsl0500 was also observed to significantly affect biofilm deposition. These observations led to the identification of BPSL0500 activity against model disaccharide linkages that are present in biofilm exopolysaccharides, a feature that has not yet been described for chitinolytic enzymes. The results in this study indicate that chitinolytic N-acetyl-β-d-hexosaminidases like bpsl0500 may facilitate biofilm disruption as well as chitin assimilation, providing dual functionality for saprophytic bacteria such as B. pseudomallei within the competitive soil microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16571
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'N-acetyl-β-hexosaminidase activity is important for chitooligosaccharide metabolism and biofilm formation in Burkholderia pseudomallei'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this