Enzymes capable of metabolizing lipids are essential for the growth of Malassezia furfur in vitro and in vivo. We designed a series of experiments to characterize the lipolytic system in this yeast. The optimal pH of the lipase system was 7.5. Lipase activity was detected in soluble and insoluble saline cell extracts and in supernatant from the cultures. Esterase activity screened in samples separated by native polyacrylamide gels showed that it was restricted to one band of low mobility. An FPLC analysis of the soluble saline extract demonstrated that the lipase activity was present in three major peaks with different protein composition as revealed by SDS-PAGE. The enzymatic activity and cell growth were first induced and later inhibited by increasing concentrations of polyethylene-sorbitan-monooleate (Tween-80). The characterization of the lipolytic system (e.g. its induction by substrate and the effect of pH and/or different cations) could help to explain the increment in the number of M. furfur infections related to alterations of surface lipids in the skin such as seborrheic dermatitis.
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