A novel milk-clotting enzyme from Aspergillus oryzae and A. luchuensis is an aspartic endopeptidase PepE presumed to be a vacuolar enzyme
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2022 Jan 13:zbac005. doi: 10.1093/bbb/zbac005. Online ahead of print.
Aspergillus oryzae RIB40 has 11 aspartic endopeptidase genes. We searched for milk-clotting enzymes based on the homology of the deduced amino acid sequence with chymosins. As a result, we identified a milk-clotting enzyme in A. oryzae. We expected other Aspergillus species to have a homologous enzyme with milk-clotting activity, and we found the most homologous aspartic endopeptidase from A. luchuensis had milk-clotting activity. Surprisingly, two enzymes were considered as vacuole enzymes according to a study on A. niger proteases. The two enzymes from A. oryzae and A. luchuensis cleaved a peptide between the 105Phe-106Met bond in κ-casein, similar to chymosin. Although both enzymes showed proteolytic activity using casein as a substrate, the optimum pH values for milk-clotting and proteolytic activities were different. Furthermore, the substrate specificities were highly restricted. Therefore, we expected that the Japanese traditional fermentation agent, koji, could be used as an enzyme source for cheese production.