ISSN: 2044-2459; e-ISSN: 2044-2467
© Maxwell Scientific Organization, 2013
Submitted: February 16, 2013 Accepted: March 11, 2013
Published: December 25, 2013
Corresponding Author: S. Adeola Adesegun, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Lagos State University, Ojo
Lagos State, Nigeria, Tel.: +234-802-308-1364
S. Adeola Adesegun, O. Folorunso Samuel, B. Ojekale Anthony,
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Lagos State University, Ojo Lagos State, Nigeria
Abstract: Volatile oils being secondary metabolites are phytoactive ingredients found in medicinal plants and may
be active against various infectious microorganisms. The present study was carried out to evaluate the antimicrobial
effect of the volatile oil from the leaf of Syzygium samarangense on Escherichia coli and its inhibition on the
extracellular protease of this organism. The volatile oil inhibited the growth of Escherichia coli with IC
moderately activated by the chloride salts of Zn
. The set of chloride salts of Ba
were, respectively strong and mild inhibitors against the activity of this enzyme. The
line weaver burke kinetic plot indicated a competitive mode of inhibition by the volatile oil on the enzyme with
µmol/min and the K
in the absence and presence of the volatile oil (inhibitor) were 0.23 mg/mL
and 1.25 mg/mL, respectively. The highest percentage yield during purification was 66.3 and the highest purification
fold was11.9 as compared to the crude enzyme. Sephadex G-100 gel filtration produced one peak each for total
protein and enzyme activity. Therefore, the volatile oil from the leaf of Syzygium samarangense may possess
antimicrobial activity and its inhibitory effect on the extracellular protease of Escherichia coli may be one of its
modes of action on the pathogenic organisms.
Keywords: Antimicrobial, Escherichia coli, extracellular protease, inhibitor, Syzygium samarangense, volatile oil
Man, since creation, has been dependent on plants
for food, shelter, clothing and medicine. Medicinal
plants are herbs that contain phytoactive components
known to modern and ancient civilization for their
healing properties. These medicinal plants used for
disease remedies could be in any usual forms such as
infusions, decoctions, tinctures, syrups, infused oils,
essential oils, ointments and creams (Leslie, 2004;
Green, 2000; Chancal, 2006). Syzygium samarangense
(Myrtaceae) is a deciduous tree commonly known as
Semarang apple. The fruits of this plant are used in
traditional medicine to cure diabetes (Shahreen et al.,
2012). The oils extracted from Syzygium samarangense
(Blume) contain γ-terpene (28.5%), α-pinene (18.2%)
and β-cymene (13.7%) as some of the essential
components (Gao et al., 2012). Essential/volatile
(ethereal) oils have been found to be one of the active
ingredients of the medicinal plants (Singh et al., 2002;
Lawless, 1995; Jansen et al., 1987). They are
concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile
aromatic compounds (Lima et al., 1993). Some of these
aromatic compounds have been isolated and
characterized, with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral
and antiprotozoal properties (Danuta, 1998). These oils
give various scents to medicinal plants (Watt et al.,
1962). The volatile oils have been used as part of active
ingredients in the manufacture of antiseptics and
disinfectants (Hoffman, 1987) and they have found
their applications in the production of pharmaceutical
and household cleaning products (Kurt, 1998).
Escherichia coli (Enterobacteriaceae) are enteric,
facultative, anaerobic, gram-negative, rod-like bacteria
that live in the intestinal tracts of healthy and disease
animals (Eckburg et al., 2005). Minimal cell density of
could be beneficial. Symbiotically, vitamin K
the intestinal fauna colonization of these bacteria.
However, higher cell density of these bacteria could be
responsible for flatulation, stomach upset, induced
diarrhoea, colitis, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), soft
tissue infections, bacteraemia and neonatal meningitis
(Todar, 2007). Certain strains like Enteroinvasive and
Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli are highly
virulent and pathogenic (Vogt and Dippold, 2002).
Virulence factors enable Escherichia coli and its strains
to colonise and invade adjacent mucosal uro-epithelium
tissue layer by invoking inflammatory reactions (Todar,
2007). These human pathogens produce extracellular
proteases with which they accomplish their
pathophysiological roles (Holder and Haidaris, 1979).
Extracellular proteases are strategically used by these
pathogens to digest host cellular surface glycoprotein at
the epithelial layer of the gastrointestinal lining thereby
facilitating host invasion and colonization (Crowther
The wide use of antibiotics in the treatment of
bacterial infections has led to the emergence and spread
of resistant strains (Kapil, 2005). The emergence of
Multiple Drug Resistant bacteria (MDR) has become a
major cause of failure in the treatment of infectious
disease by antibiotics (
Livermore, 2002; Costerton and
Anwar, 1994; Gibbons et al., 2003, 2004;
White et al.,
Sanders et al., 1977
natural antibiotics may be one of the ways of
complementing the presence failing drugs.
aims at assessing the antimicrobial effect of the volatile
oil of Syzygium samarangense and its mode of
inhibition on partially purified extracellular protease of
MATERIALS AND METHODS
of plant material: Identified and
authenticated leaves of Syzygium samarangense were
obtained as green foliage from the botanical garden of
Lagos State University, Ojo Lagos State, Nigeria. The
leaf sample was air-dried for a week.
Microorganism: The Escherichia coli 25922 used in
this study was obtained from the Department of
Microbiology, Nigeria Institute of Medical Research
(NIMR) Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria. The isolate was
maintained at 37°C in a disposable petri dishes
containing nutrient agar for 24 h and then stored at 4°C.
procedure of Lawrence and Reynolds (1993). Briefly,
600 g of the dried leaves of Syzygium samarangense
were introduced into the 5 L 34/35 Quick fit round
bottom flask containing 1.5 L distilled water with fixed
Clevenger. The oil was extracted at a steady
temperature of 80°C for 3 h and the oil was collected
over 2 mL n-hexane. The oil was kept tightly in a
sample bottle and stored at 4°C until it was used.
Bacteria growth inhibition and determination of
of the volatile oil: The antimicrobial activity of
the volatile oil extracted from Syzygium samarangense
was tested against the growth of Escherichia coli 25922
and the inhibitory concentration required to clear off
50% of the bacterial growth was estimated. This was
done by using microbroth dilution technique in nutrient
broth following a modified method described by
Akujobi and Njoku (2010). Briefly, a colony of the
organism was added to 200 µL of susceptible test broth
(prepared with 0.5% v/v Tween-80) containing two-
fold serial dilutions of the volatile oil in the microtitre
plate (21.5 cm by 17 cm). The plate was covered and
incubated under anaerobic condition at 37°C for 24 h.
After 24 h, each inoculum from the microwell was re-
inoculated into a fresh nutrient broth and growth
inhibition of the bacteria was spectrophotometrically
determined at 620 nm using a microplate reader after 18
h of anaerobic incubation at 37°C. The degree of
percentage growth inhibition was estimated using the
= The absorbance of the well in the absence of
= The absorbance of the well in the presence of
Production of extracellular protease: This was done
according to the procedure of Makino et al. (1981).
Escherichia coli 25922 was re-inoculated under
anaerobic condition into 5.0 mL freshly prepared
nutrient broth in McCartney bottle and this was
incubated at 37°C for 24 h. The dirty cloudy microbial
broth formed was centrifuged at 9000 rpm for 10 min.
The supernatant of this microbial broth was stored in a
sample bottle at 4°C until it was used. This supernatant
was used as a crude source of extracellular protease.
Protein determination: Total protein of the crude
enzyme extract was determined using Lowry et al.
(1951) method. This was done by adding 5.0 mL of
alkaline solution containing a mixture of 50 mL of
solution X (20 g sodium trioxocarbonate IV and 4 g
sodium hydroxide in 1L) and 1mL of solution Y (5 g
cupper II tetraoxosulphate VI pentahydrate and 10 g
sodium-potassium tartrate in 1L) to 0.1 mL of crude
enzyme extract and mixed thoroughly. The solution was
allowed to stand for 10 min at room temperature and
0.5 mL of freshly prepared Folin Ciocalteau’s phenolic
reagent (50% v/v) was added. The solution was mixed
thoroughly and the absorbance was read at 750 nm after
30 min. Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) was used as
standard protein (0.20 mg/mL).
Enzyme assay: The extracellular proteolytic activity of
Ciocalteau (1927) method. This was carried out by
adding 5.0 mL of casein solution (0.6% w/v in 0.05 M
Tris buffer at pH 8.0) to 0.1 mL of the crude enzyme
extract and the mixture was incubated for 10 min at
mL of a solution containing 0.11 M trichloroacetic acid,
0.22 M NaCl and 0.33 M acetic acid mixed in ratio
1:2:3. The turbid solution was filtered and 5.0 mL of
alkaline solution was added to 1.0 mL of the filtrate
followed by 0.5 mL of freshly prepared Folin
Ciocalteau’s phenolic reagent after 10 min of thorough
mixing. The absorbance was read at 750 nm after 30
min. L-tyrosine solution (0.20 mg/mL) was used as
standard for the protease activity. A unit of protease
activity was defined as the amount of enzyme required
to liberate 1.0 µmol of tyrosine in 60 sec at 37°C. The
specific activity was expressed in units of enzyme
Determination of optimum pH of the enzyme
activity: The method adopted was described by Makino
et al. (1981) with little modification. This was carried
out by adding 5.0 mL of 0.6% w/v casein solution in
0.05 M Tris buffer (pH ranges from 6.0-8.5), as
substrate, to 0.1 mL of the crude enzyme extract and the
enzyme assay was carried out at 37°C for 10 min as
Determination of optimum temperature of the
enzyme activity: As described by Makino et al. (1981),
5.0 mL of 0.6%w/v casein in 0.05 M Tris buffer at pH
8.0 was mixed with 0.1 mL of crude enzyme extract
and the enzyme assay was carried out at temperature
range of 30-60°C for 10 min. The reaction was stopped
and enzyme activity was carried out at each stage of
Inhibitory assay: The method adopted was described
by Makino et al. (1981)
with a slight difference.
of 3.5% v/v of the volatile oil in 0.5% v/v Tween 80
solution were added concomitantly to different
concentration of casein solution (0.2-1.0% w/v) in 0.05
M Tris buffer at pH 8.0 and the reaction mixture was
mixed and incubated at 37°C for 10 min. The reaction
was stopped by adding 5.0 mL of a solution containing
0.11 M trichloroacetic acid, 0.22 M NaCl and 0.33 M
acetic acid mixed in ratio 1:2:3. Protease assay was
carried out as earlier described above. The procedure
was repeated without an inhibitor.
Effect of metallic chloride salts: Following the
method described by Jahan et al. (2007) with little
modification, the extracellular protease activity was
carried out in the presence of 1.0 mM chloride salt
solutions of Hg
. Briefly, to 0.1 mL of the
crude enzyme extract, 1.0 mL of each chloride salt
solution and 5.0 mL of different concentration of casein
solution (0.2-1.0% w/v) in 0.05 M Tris buffer at pH 8.0
were concomitantly added and the reaction mixture was
mixed and incubated at 37°C for 10 min. The reaction
was stopped by adding 5.0 mL of a solution containing
0.11 M trichloroacetic acid, 0.22 M NaCl and 0.33 M
acetic acid mixed in ratio 1:2:3. Protease assay was
carried out as described above.
Dialysis: The crude enzyme extract was dialyzed (using
SIGMA Dialysis Tubing Cellulose Membrane, D
Fig. 1: Growth inhibition of Escherichia coli 25922 by the
Fig. 2: Effect of pH on the caseinolytic activity of
9402), at room temperature, with 55% w/v saturated
buffer solution (pH 8.0). The solution was centrifuged
(Kendros Pico Biofuge, Heraeus) at 5000 rpm for 10
min to separate the protein residue. After reconstituting
in Tris buffer, both total protein and protease activity
Gel filtration: Three gram of Sephadex G-100 was
soaked in 100 mL Tris buffer for 72 h. The soaked gel
was poured into a capillary tube (20×2) cm
with a flow
to the top of the gel overnight to prevent bacterial
growth. Five mL of separated 55% w/v ammonium
sulphate dialysate was introduced on top of the gel and
was filtered using Tris buffer (0.05 M, pH 8.0, at room
temperature) as mobile phase. Fifty fractions of 3 mL
each were collected. Protein and enzyme activity were
determined at 750 nm.
The volatile oil from the leaves of Syzygium
25922 as shown in Fig. 1. The IC
of this oil as
Log conc of the volatile oil (%v/v)
Fig. 3: Effect of temperature on the caseinolytic activity of
Fig. 4: Effect of metallic chloride ions on the caseinolytic
of Syzygium samarangense volatile oil (SSVO) on the
caseinolytic activity of extracellular protease of
Escherichia coli 25922
Figure 2 and 3 show the effects of pH and
activities at 7.0 and 43°C, respectively. However, the
activity of this enzyme was moderately high between
pH 6.7 and 8.2. There was a steady increase in the
enzyme activity between 40-45°C.
Figure 4 shows the effect of metallic chloride ions
on the activity of this extracellular protease. Ba
were strong inhibitors of this enzyme. Mg
were mild inhibitors.
activators of this enzyme.
The kinetic inhibition of the volatile oil of
activity of the extracellular protease of Escherichia coli
is shown in Fig. 5. From this line weaver burke plot, the
volatile oil as inhibitor exhibited competitive inhibition
µmol/min and the K
absence and presence of volatile oil were 0.23 and 1.25
The purification profile of the crude extracellular
protease of Escherichia coli is shown in Table 1. The
highest percentage yield obtained during purification
was 66.3 and 11.9 as the highest purification fold as
compared to the crude extract.
Figure 6 shows the chromatogram for Sephadex G-
100 elution profile. One peak each was obtained for
both total protein and enzyme activity.
In this study, the volatile oil from the leaves of
of Escherichia coli under anaerobic condition. In
addition, the kinetic activity of the extracellular
protease of this organism was examined under the
influence of this essential oil as inhibitor in order to
determine one of the ways by which this plant exhibits
its antimicrobial activity. This volatile oil showed a
noticeable growth inhibition of Escherichia coli under
favourable condition. Venkata and Venkata Raju (2008)
have been able to show the antibacterial effect of the
organic extract of the fruits of this plant against both
gram negative and positive bacteria. Joji and Beena
(2011), after isolating the components of the volatile oil
from the leaves of this plant, suggested that the broad
antimicrobial activity of this plant may have been as a
result of synergistic effect of the phytoconstituents
present in this oil. Eucalyptin was one of the two
flavonoids successfully extracted from Syzygium
flavonoid was reported to possess antimicrobial activity
(Takahasi et al., 2004) against some gram positive and
negative pathogenic bacteria. The infusing volatile oil
as an antimicrobial agent generally has ability to disrupt
cell membrane thereby increasing their permeability to
this oil and causes the biological functions of key
proteins to be inhibited and this is followed by cell
0.1 mM metallic chloride solution
Table 1: Summary of purification procedures
Total protein (mg)
The relatively high and stable activity of the
could have been one of the reasons why this organism
survives in the fore and the hind guts of GIT especially
in warm blooded animals. More importantly, this type
of protease is likely to be neutral protease (Fig. 2).
Ordinarily, this type of organism hardly cause
infections but prolong flora habitation and acquired
genetophynotypic variation can make them virulence
and therefore capable of causing infections such as
gastroenteritis, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and
neonatal meningitis. In rarer cases, virulence strains are
also responsible for hemolytic-uremic syndrome,
peritonitis, mastitis, septicemia and gram-negative
pneumonia (Todar, 2007). Similarly, the activity of this
extracellular protease increased steadily between 40-
been found to thrive well at 49°C (Fotadar et al., 2005).
This enzyme therefore might just be one of the strategic
proteins that make this organism to survive relatively
high temperature and this is persistently correlated to
the characteristics of this bacterium as contaminant of
body openings (vagina, anus, nostrils, ears and mouth),
dairy products, food, meat, fish and confectioneries.
The present result may not totally support the
extracellular protease of Escherichia coli to be
metalloenzyme, because none of the metallic chloride
used in this study was able to significantly stimulate the
activity of this enzyme more than the control (native
enzyme) when subjected to casein hydrolysis. The
activity of this enzyme in the presence of Zn
was not different from the control. Ba
strongly inhibited the activity of this enzyme
The volatile oil of Syzygium samarangense
competitively inhibited the activity of extracellular
protease of Escherichia coli
indicating that this
volatile oil is potentially capable of reducing the
catalytic activity of the extracellular protease of
Escherichia coli by binding to the active site of the
enzyme thereby preventing the real substrate from
binding and consequently reduce the affinity of the
enzyme for the substrate. This may be possible as a
result of structural resemblance of the component (s) of
the volatile oil and the enzyme substrate. This may be
an open way discovery of phytoactive drug capable of
arresting similar gram-negative facultative human GIT
The highest purification fold obtained as compared
to the extract was 11.9. The highest specific activity
was 814.3 µmol/min/mg protein. The elution
chromatogram revealed a peak each for both total
protein and enzyme activity. Further works are needed
to elucidate on the nature and molecular weight of this
The essential oil from the leaf of Syzygium
samarangense was found to be active against
bacteriostatic or bactericidal agent to prevent or treat
bacterial infections. This study has shown Syzygium
samarangense to be a source of compound(s) with
possible antimicrobial activities and more
pharmacological investigations will be necessary to
validate its medical applications.
The authors wish to acknowledge the efforts of the
Biochemistry, Lagos State University, Ojo Lagos State
Nigeria for the release of chemicals and Mr
Omonigbeyin EO from Nigeria Institute of Medical
Research, Yaba Lagos State Nigeria for his technical
input in this study.
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