Influenza C virus (strain C/Johannesburg/1/66) was grown, harvested, purified and used as source for the enzyme O-acetylesterase (N-acyl-O-acetylneuraminate O-acetylhydrolase; EC This activity was studied and characterized with regard to some new substrates. The pH optimum of the enzyme is around 7.6, its stability at different pH values shows a result similar to that of the pH optimum, and its activity is well maintained in the pH range from 7.0 to 8.5 (all these tests were performed with 4-nitrophenyl acetate as substrate). Remarkable differences were found in the values of both Km and Vmax, with the synthetic substrates 4-nitrophenyl acetate, 2-nitrophenyl acetate, 4-methylumbelliferyl acetate, 1-naphthyl acetate and fluorescein diacetate. The use of 4-nitrophenyl acetate, 4-methylumbelliferyl acetate or 1-naphthyl acetate as substrate seems to be convenient for routine work, but it is better to carry out the measurements in parallel with those on bovine submandibular gland mucin (the latter is a natural and commercially available substrate). It was found that 4-acetoxybenzoic acid, as well as the methyl ester of 2-acetoxybenzoic acid, but not 2-acetoxybenzoic acid itself, are cleaved by this enzyme. Triacetin, di-O-acetyladenosine, tri-O-acetyladenosine, and di-O-acetyl-N-acetyladenosine phosphate, hitherto unreported as substrates for this viral esterase, are hydrolysed at different rates by this enzyme. We conclude that the O-acetylesterase from influenza C virus has a broad specificity towards both synthetic and natural non-sialic acid-containing substrates. Zn2+, Mn2+ and Pb2+ (as their chloride salts), N-acetylneuraminic acid, 4-methyl-umbelliferone and 2-acetoxybenzoic acid (acetylsalicylic acid) did not act as inhibitors.

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