Food microbiology

Comparison of different IlvE aminotransferases in Lactobacillus sakei and investigation of their contribution to aroma formation from branched chain amino acids.

PMID 22202874


Branched chain aminotransferases (IlvE/BcaT), specific for leucine, isoleucine, and valine initialize the formation of methyl-branched volatiles, which are strongly linked to the typical aroma of cured meat products. Lactobacillus sakei, one of the dominating lactic acid bacteria species for meat fermentations and commonly used as starter lacks this enzyme, whereas the presence of IlvE has been reported for Lactobacillus paracasei, a non-starter lactic acid bacterium occurring in meat products and with probiotic properties, in Staphylococcus carnosus, a catalase positive cocci also used as starter for meat products, and in Enterococcus faecalis belonging to the natural microbiota of meat and that may impact on the aroma of fermented meat products. The genes for branched-chain aminotransferases of these three bacterial species were used to complement the IlvE negative strain L. sakei TMW1.1322. For that purpose, ilvE genes were heterologously expressed in L. sakei TMW1.1322 under the control of the constitutive L. sakei promotor pldhL via replicative plasmids and chromosomal integration. To examine effective expression the constructs were transcriptionally coupled to mCherry, a red fluorescent protein. Aminotransferase activities and formation of volatile compounds were compared. Activities of L. sakei ArcT and AspD purified enzymes were also measured. Conversion of branched chain amino acids to the corresponding α-keto-acids was significantly increased in all transformants expressing the ilvE genes. The activity of IlvE obtained from L. paracasei was highest. Substrate specificities of IlvEs towards leucine, isoleucine and valine were similar. However, enhanced transaminase activities did not increase formation of the respective methyl-branched volatiles by recombinant L. sakei strains. This indicates that presence of ilvE cannot be the only bottleneck in aroma formation from amino acids. Amino acid or peptide uptake into the cell via specific transport systems and the conversion of α-keto acids to the corresponding aldehydes, alcohols and carboxylic acids must be considered as further limiting steps.