Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are a family of chemically heterogeneous polysaccharides that play important roles in physiological and pathological processes. Owing to the structural complexity of GAGs, their sophisticated chemical structures and biological functions have not been extensively studied. Lyases that cleave GAGs are important tools for structural analysis. Although various GAG lyases have been identified, exolytic lyases with unique enzymatic property are urgently needed for GAG sequencing. In the present study, a putative exolytic GAG lyase from a marine bacterium was recombinantly expressed and characterized in detail. Since it showed exolytic lyase activity toward hyaluronan (HA), chondroitin sulfate (CS), and dermatan sulfate (DS), it was designated as HCDLase. This novel exolyase exhibited the highest activity in Tris–HCl buffer (pH 7.0) at 30°C. Especially, it showed a specific activity that released 2-aminobenzamide (2-AB)-labeled disaccharides from the reducing end of 2-AB-labeled CS oligosaccharides, which suggest that HCDLase is not only a novel exolytic lyase that can split disaccharide residues from the reducing termini of sugar chains but also a useful tool for the sequencing of CS chains. Notably, HCDLase could not digest 2-AB-labeled oligosaccharides from HA, DS, or unsulfated chondroitin, which indicated that sulfates and bond types affect the catalytic activity of HCDLase. Finally, this enzyme combined with CSase ABC was successfully applied for the sequencing of several CS hexa- and octasaccharides with complex structures. The identification of HCDLase provides a useful tool for CS-related research and applications.

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