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Characterization and role of a metalloprotease induced by chitin in Serratia sp. KCK.A metalloprotease induced by chitin in a new chitinolytic bacterium Serratia sp. Strain KCK was purified and characterized. Compared with other Serratia enzymes, it exhibited a rather broad pH activity range (pH 5.0-8.0), and thermostability. The cognate ORF, mpr, was cloned and expressed. Its deduced amino acid sequence showed high similarity to those of bacterial zinc-binding metalloproteases and a well-conserved serralysin family motif. Pretreatment of chitin with the Mpr protein promoted chitin degradation by chitinase A, which suggests that Mpr participates in, and facilitates, chitin degradation by this microorganism.