The FEBS journal

The beta-N-acetylglucosaminidases NAG1 and NAG2 are essential for growth of Trichoderma atroviride on chitin.

PMID 19674110


The chitinolytic enzyme machinery of fungi consists of chitinases and beta-N-acetylglucosaminidases. These enzymes are important during the fungal life cycle for degradation of exogenous chitin, which is the second most abundant biopolymer, as well as fungal cell-wall remodelling. In addition, involvement of chitinolytic enzymes in the lysis of the host cell wall in mycoparasitic Trichoderma spp. has been reported. In view of the fact that fungi have on average 15-20 chitinases, but only two beta-N-acetylglucosaminidases, the question arises how important the latter enzymes actually are for various aspects of chitin degradation. In this study, the role of two beta-N-acetylglucosaminidases, NAG1 and NAG2, was analysed in the mycoparasitic fungus Trichoderma atroviride. No beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase activity was detected in T. atrovirideDeltanag1Deltanag2 strains, suggesting that NAG1 and NAG2 are the only enzymes in T. atroviride that possess this activity. Deltanag1Deltanag2 strains were not able to grow on chitin and chitobiose, but the presence of either NAG1 or NAG2 was sufficient to restore growth on chitinous carbon sources in solid media. Our results demonstrated that T. atroviride cannot metabolize chitobiose but only the monomer N-acetylglucosamine, and that N-acetylglucosaminidases are therefore essential for the use of chitin as a nutrient source. NAG1 is predominantly secreted into the medium, whereas NAG2 mainly remains attached to the cell wall. No physiological changes or reduction of the mycoparasitic potential of T. atroviride was detected in the double knockout strains, suggesting that the use of chitin as carbon source is only of minor importance for these processes.

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N,N′-Diacetylchitobiose, ≥96% (HPLC)