Marine microorganisms represent a reservoir of new promising secondary metabolites. Surface-active proteins with good emulsification activity can be isolated from fungal species that inhabit the marine environment and can be promising candidates for different biotechnological applications. In this study a novel surface-active protein, named Sap-Pc, was purified from a marine strain of Penicillium chrysogenum. The effect of salt concentration and temperature on protein production was analyzed, and a purification method was set up. The purified protein, identified as Pc13g06930, was annotated as a hypothetical protein. It was able to form emulsions, which were stable for at least one month, with an emulsification index comparable to that of other known surface-active proteins. The surface tension reduction was analyzed as function of protein concentration and a critical micellar concentration of 2 μM was determined. At neutral or alkaline pH, secondary structure changes were monitored over time, concurrently with the appearance of protein precipitation. Formation of amyloid-like fibrils of SAP-Pc was demonstrated by spectroscopic and microscopic analyses. Moreover, the effect of protein concentration, a parameter affecting kinetics of fibril formation, was investigated and an on-pathway involvement of micellar aggregates during the fibril formation process was suggested.
Keywords: amyloid fibrils; biosurfactant proteins; emulsions; marine fungi.