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1.  The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Leu3 protein activates expression of GDH1, a key gene in nitrogen assimilation. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(1):52-57.
The Leu3 protein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been shown to be a transcriptional regulator of genes encoding enzymes of the branched-chain amino acid biosynthetic pathways. Leu3 binds to upstream activating sequences (UASLEU) found in the promoters of LEU1, LEU2, LEU4, ILV2, and ILV5. In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that activation by Leu3 requires the presence of alpha-isopropylmalate. In at least one case (LEU2), Leu3 actually represses basal-level transcription when alpha-isopropylmalate is absent. Following identification of a UASLEU-homologous sequence in the promoter of GDH1, the gene encoding NADP(+)-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase, we demonstrate that Leu3 specifically interacts with this UASLEU element. We then show that Leu3 is required for full activation of the GDH1 gene. First, the expression of a GDH1-lacZ fusion gene is three- to sixfold lower in a strain lacking the LEU3 gene than in an isogenic LEU3+ strain. Expression is restored to near-normal levels when the leu3 deletion cells are transformed with a LEU3-bearing plasmid. Second, a significant decrease in GDH1-lacZ expression is also seen when the UASLEU of the GDH1-lacZ construct is made nonfunctional by mutation. Third, the steady-state level of GDH1 mRNA decreases about threefold in leu3 null cells. The decrease in GDH1 expression in leu3 null cells is reflected in a diminished specific activity of NADP(+)-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase. We also demonstrate that the level of GDH1-lacZ expression correlates with the cells' ability to generate alpha-isopropylmalate and is lowest in cells unable to produce alpha-isopropylmalate. We conclude that GDH1, which plays an important role in the assimilation of ammonia in yeast cells, is, in part, activated by a Leu3-alpha-isopropylmalate complex. This conclusion suggests that Leu3 participates in transcriptional regulation beyond the branched-chain amino acid biosynthetic pathways.
PMCID: PMC231907  PMID: 7799961
2.  Characterization of Leucine Auxotrophs of the White Rot Basidiomycete Phanerochaete chrysosporium 
Six leucine auxotrophic strains of the white rot basidiomycete Phanerochaete chrysosporium were characterized genetically and biochemically. Complementation studies involving the use of heterokaryons identified three leucine complementation groups. Since all of the leucine auxotrophs grew on minimal medium supplemented with α-ketoisocaproate as well as with leucine, the transaminase catalyzing the last step in the leucine pathway was apparently normal in all strains. Therefore, the wild-type, auxotrophic, and several heterokaryotic strains were assayed for the activities of the other enzymes specific to leucine biosynthesis. Leu2 and Leu4 strains (complementation group I) lacked only α-isopropylmalate synthase activity; Leu3 and Leu6 strains (group III) lacked isopropylmalate isomerase activity; and Leu1 and Leu5 strains (group II) lacked β-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase. Heterokaryons formed from leucine auxotrophs of different complementation groups had levels of activity for all three enzymes similar to those found in the wild-type strain.
PMCID: PMC239040  PMID: 16347073
3.  Arabidopsis thaliana encodes a bacterial-type heterodimeric isopropylmalate isomerase involved in both Leu biosynthesis and the Met chain elongation pathway of glucosinolate formation 
Plant Molecular Biology  2009;71(3):227-239.
The last steps of the Leu biosynthetic pathway and the Met chain elongation cycle for glucosinolate formation share identical reaction types suggesting a close evolutionary relationship of these pathways. Both pathways involve the condensation of acetyl-CoA and a 2-oxo acid, isomerization of the resulting 2-malate derivative to form a 3-malate derivative, the oxidation-decarboxylation of the 3-malate derivative to give an elongated 2-oxo acid, and transamination to generate the corresponding amino acid. We have now analyzed the genes encoding the isomerization reaction, the second step of this sequence, in Arabidopsis thaliana. One gene encodes the large subunit and three encode small subunits of this enzyme, referred to as isopropylmalate isomerase (IPMI) with respect to the Leu pathway. Metabolic profiling of large subunit mutants revealed accumulation of intermediates of both Leu biosynthesis and Met chain elongation, and an altered composition of aliphatic glucosinolates demonstrating the function of this gene in both pathways. In contrast, the small subunits appear to be specialized to either Leu biosynthesis or Met chain elongation. Green fluorescent protein tagging experiments confirms the import of one of the IPMI small subunits into the chloroplast, the localization of the Met chain elongation pathway in these organelles. These results suggest the presence of different heterodimeric IPMIs in Arabidopsis chloroplasts with distinct substrate specificities for Leu or glucosinolate metabolism determined by the nature of the different small subunit.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11103-009-9519-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2729411  PMID: 19597944
Leucine metabolism; Glucosinolate biosynthesis; Methionine chain elongation pathway; Isopropylmalate isomerase
4.  Leucine synthesis in Corynebacterium glutamicum: enzyme activities, structure of leuA, and effect of leuA inactivation on lysine synthesis. 
Enzymes and genes of the isopropylmalate pathway leading to leucine in Corynebacterium glutamicum were studied, and assays were performed to unravel their connection to lysine oversynthesis. The first enzyme of the pathway is inhibited by leucine (Ki = 0.4 mM), and all three enzyme activities of the isopropylmalate pathway are reduced upon addition of this amino acid to the growth medium. Three different DNA fragments were cloned, each resulting in an oversynthesis of one of the three enzymes. The leuA complementing fragment encoding the isopropylmalate synthase was sequenced. The leuA gene is 1,848 bp in size, encoding a polypeptide with an M(r) of 68,187. Upstream of leuA there is extensive hyphenated dyad symmetry and a putative leader peptide, which are features characteristic of attenuation control. In addition to leuA, the sequenced fragment contains an open reading frame with high coding probability whose disruption did not result in a detectable phenotype. Furthermore, the sequence revealed that this open reading frame separates leuA from lysC, which encodes the aspartate kinase initiating the synthesis of all amino acids of the aspartate family. The leuA gene was inactivated in three lysine-secreting strains by insertional mutagenesis. Fermentations were performed, and a roughly 50% higher lysine yield was obtained when appropriate leucine concentrations limiting for growth of the constructed strains were used.
PMCID: PMC201280  PMID: 8117072
5.  Biosynthesis of branched-chain amino acids in yeast: effect of carbon source on leucine biosynthetic enzymes. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;121(3):959-969.
The three enzymes in the leucine biosynthetic pathway of yeast do not exhibit coordinate repression and derepression in response to the carbon source available in the culture medium. Growth in an acetate medium results in derepression of the first enzyme in the pathway, alpha-isopropylmalate synthase, and repression of the second two enzymes, alpha-isopropylmalate isomerase and beta-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase, relative to the levels found in glucose-grown cells. The role of endogenous leucine pools as a mediator of these differences was investigated. The leucine pools did not differ significantly between acetate-grown and glucose-grown cells. However, an elevated endogenous leucine pool, caused by exogenous leucine in the growth medium, did decrease the rate of decay of alpha-isopropylmalate synthase activity observed when acetate-grown cells were shifted to glucose. Evidence is provided suggesting that an elevated endogenous leucine pool may increase the in vivo stability of alpha-isopropylmalate synthase under several different conditions. Studies on the kinetics of alpha-isopropylmalate synthase decay in vivo and sensitivity to leucine inhibition indicate that there are two classes of the enzyme in acetate-grown yeast cells.
PMCID: PMC246024  PMID: 163818
6.  Characterization of α-isopropylmalate synthases containing different copy numbers of tandem repeats in Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:122.
Alpha-isopropylmalate synthase (α-IPMS) is the key enzyme that catalyzes the first committed step in the leucine biosynthetic pathway. The gene encoding α-IPMS in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, leuA, is polymorphic due to the insertion of 57-bp repeat units referred to as Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTR). The role of the VNTR found within the M. tuberculosis genome is unclear. To investigate the role of the VNTR in leuA, we compared two α-IPMS proteins with different numbers of amino acid repeats, one with two copies and the other with 14 copies. We have cloned leuA with 14 copies of the repeat units into the pET15b expression vector with a His6-tag at the N-terminus, as was previously done for the leuA gene with two copies of the repeat units.
The recombinant His6-α-IPMS proteins with two and 14 copies (α-IPMS-2CR and α-IPMS-14CR, respectively) of the repeat units were purified by immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography and gel filtration. Both enzymes were found to be dimers by gel filtration. Both enzymes work well at pH values of 7–8.5 and temperatures of 37–42°C. However, α-IPMS-14CR tolerates pH values and temperatures outside of this range better than α-IPMS-2CR does. α-IPMS-14CR has higher affinity than α-IPMS-2CR for the two substrates, α-ketoisovalerate and acetyl CoA. Furthermore, α-IPMS-2CR was feedback inhibited by the end product l-leucine, whereas α-IPMS-14CR was not.
The differences in the kinetic properties and the l-leucine feedback inhibition between the two M. tuberculosis α-IPMS proteins containing low and high numbers of VNTR indicate that a large VNTR insertion affects protein structure and function. Demonstration of l-leucine binding to α-IPMS-14CR would confirm whether or not α-IPMS-14CR responds to end-product feedback inhibition.
PMCID: PMC2704214  PMID: 19505340
7.  Iron Regulation through the Back Door: Iron-Dependent Metabolite Levels Contribute to Transcriptional Adaptation to Iron Deprivation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae ▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2010;9(3):460-471.
Budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) responds to iron deprivation both by Aft1-Aft2-dependent transcriptional activation of genes involved in cellular iron uptake and by Cth1-Cth2-specific degradation of certain mRNAs coding for iron-dependent biosynthetic components. Here, we provide evidence for a novel principle of iron-responsive gene expression. This regulatory mechanism is based on the modulation of transcription through the iron-dependent variation of levels of regulatory metabolites. As an example, the LEU1 gene of branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis is downregulated under iron-limiting conditions through depletion of the metabolic intermediate α-isopropylmalate, which functions as a key transcriptional coactivator of the Leu3 transcription factor. Synthesis of α-isopropylmalate involves the iron-sulfur protein Ilv3, which is inactivated under iron deficiency. As another example, decreased mRNA levels of the cytochrome c-encoding CYC1 gene under iron-limiting conditions involve heme-dependent transcriptional regulation via the Hap1 transcription factor. Synthesis of the iron-containing heme is directly correlated with iron availability. Thus, the iron-responsive expression of genes that are downregulated under iron-limiting conditions is conferred by two independent regulatory mechanisms: transcriptional regulation through iron-responsive metabolites and posttranscriptional mRNA degradation. Only the combination of the two processes provides a quantitative description of the response to iron deprivation in yeast.
PMCID: PMC2837980  PMID: 20008079
8.  Regulation of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Biosynthesis in Salmonella typhimurium: Isolation of Regulatory Mutants 
Journal of Bacteriology  1969;97(3):1272-1282.
5′,5′,5′-Trifluoro-dl-leucine inhibited the activity of α-isopropylmalate synthetase (the initial enzyme unique to leucine biosynthesis) as well as the growth of Salmonella typhimurium. Mutants of S. typhimurium resistant to the analogue were isolated and characterized. In most cases, they overproduced and excreted leucine or leucine, valine, and isoleucine as a result of an alteration in the regulation of branched-chain amino acid biosynthesis. Biochemical and genetic tests allowed the mutants to be grouped into three classes: I, a moderately large group (13%) which had high, constitutive leucine biosynthetic enzyme levels and mutant sites linked to the leucine operon (operator constitutive); II, a single mutant in which the mutant site was linked to the leucine operon and in which α-isopropylmalate synthetase was not inhibited by leucine (feedback negative); III, a majority type which had constitutive levels of leucine, valine, and isoleucine biosynthetic enzymes and mutant sites unlinked to the leucine operon. Mutants of class I provide important evidence for the concept of an operon organization of genes involved in leucine biosynthesis. The properties of class III mutants indicate that there is some element involved in regulation which is common to the three pathways.
PMCID: PMC249844  PMID: 4887507
9.  Development of a Chromosomally Integrated Metabolite-Inducible Leu3p-α-IPM “Off-On” Gene Switch 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12488.
Present technology uses mostly chimeric proteins as regulators and hormones or antibiotics as signals to induce spatial and temporal gene expression.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we show that a chromosomally integrated yeast ‘Leu3p-α-ΙΡΜ’ system constitutes a ligand-inducible regulatory “off-on” genetic switch with an extensively dynamic action area. We find that Leu3p acts as an active transcriptional repressor in the absence and as an activator in the presence of α-isopropylmalate (α-ΙΡΜ) in primary fibroblasts isolated from double transgenic mouse embryos bearing ubiquitously expressing Leu3p and a Leu3p regulated GFP reporter. In the absence of the branched amino acid biosynthetic pathway in animals, metabolically stable α-IPM presents an EC50 equal to 0.8837 mM and fast “OFF-ON” kinetics (t50ON = 43 min, t50OFF = 2.18 h), it enters the cells via passive diffusion, while it is non-toxic to mammalian cells and to fertilized mouse eggs cultured ex vivo.
Our results demonstrate that the ‘Leu3p-α-ΙΡΜ’ constitutes a simpler and safer system for inducible gene expression in biomedical applications.
PMCID: PMC2930855  PMID: 20824215
10.  Specific regulatory interconnection between the leucine and histidine pathways of Neurospora crassa. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;158(1):121-127.
Leucine auxotrophs of Neurospora fall into two discrete categories with respect to sensitivity to the herbicide, 3-amino-1,2,4-triazole. The pattern of resistance corresponds exactly to the ability to produce the leucine pathway control elements, alpha-isopropylmalate and the leu-3 product. An analysis of the regulatory response of the production of enzymes of histidine biosynthesis to alpha-isopropylmalate implicates the control elements of the leucine pathway as important components of the mechanism governing the production of the target enzyme of aminotriazole inhibition, imidazoleglycerol-phosphate dehydratase (EC The evidence suggests that the regulatory interconnection between the two pathways is direct and is independent of other general integrating regulatory mechanisms which appear to be operative in both pathways. A general method for isolating leu-1 and leu-2, as well as other regulatory mutants, is described, which takes advantage of the specificity of the resistance to the inhibitor. Use of analogous systems is prescribed for the analysis of other regulatory interconnections which, like this one, might not be anticipated directly from structural or biosynthetic considerations.
PMCID: PMC215388  PMID: 6325383
11.  Subcellular Localization of the Leucine Biosynthetic Enzymes in Yeast1 
Journal of Bacteriology  1973;116(1):222-225.
When baker's yeast spheroplasts were lysed by mild osmotic shock, practically all of the isopropylmalate isomerase and the β-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase was released into the 30,000 × g supernatant fraction, as was the cytosol marker enzyme, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. α-Isopropylmalate synthase, however, was not detected in the initial supernatant, but could be progressively solubilized by homogenization, appearing more slowly than citrate synthase but faster than cytochrome oxidase. Of the total glutamate-α-ketoisocaproate transaminase activity, approximately 20% was in the initial soluble fraction, whereas solubilization of the remainder again required homogenization of the spheroplast lysate. Results from sucrose density gradient centrifugation of a cell-free particulate fraction and comparison with marker enzymes suggested that α-isopropylmalate synthase was located in the mitochondria. It thus appears that, in yeast, the first specific enzyme in the leucine biosynthetic pathway (α-isopropylmalate synthase) is particulate, whereas the next two enzymes in the pathway (isopropylmalate isomerase and β-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase) are “soluble,” with glutamate-α-ketoisocaproate transaminase activity being located in both the cytosol and particulate cell fractions.
PMCID: PMC246411  PMID: 4355481
12.  The Small Subunit 1 of the Arabidopsis Isopropylmalate Isomerase Is Required for Normal Growth and Development and the Early Stages of Glucosinolate Formation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91071.
In Arabidopsis thaliana the evolutionary and functional relationship between Leu biosynthesis and the Met chain elongation pathway, the first part of glucosinolate formation, is well documented. Nevertheless the exact functions of some pathway components are still unclear. Isopropylmalate isomerase (IPMI), an enzyme usually involved in Leu biosynthesis, is a heterodimer consisting of a large and a small subunit. While the large protein is encoded by a single gene (ISOPROPYLMALATE ISOMERASE LARGE SUBUNIT1), three genes encode small subunits (ISOPROPYLMALATE ISOMERASE SMALL SUBUNIT1 to 3). We have now analyzed small subunit 1 (ISOPROPYLMALATE ISOMERASE SMALL SUBUNIT1) employing artificial microRNA for a targeted knockdown of the encoding gene. Strong reduction of corresponding mRNA levels to less than 5% of wild-type levels resulted in a severe phenotype with stunted growth, narrow pale leaf blades with green vasculature and abnormal adaxial-abaxial patterning as well as anomalous flower morphology. Supplementation of the knockdown plants with leucine could only partially compensate for the morphological and developmental abnormalities. Detailed metabolite profiling of the knockdown plants revealed changes in the steady state levels of isopropylmalate and glucosinolates as well as their intermediates demonstrating a function of IPMI SSU1 in both leucine biosynthesis and the first cycle of Met chain elongation. Surprisingly the levels of free leucine slightly increased suggesting an imbalanced distribution of leucine within cells and/or within plant tissues.
PMCID: PMC3946710  PMID: 24608865
13.  Role of the leu-3 Cistron in the Regulation of the Synthesis of Isoleucine and Valine Biosynthetic Enzymes of Neurospora 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;118(2):374-384.
The production by Neurospora of the enzymes of isoleucine and valine synthesis in response to specific end product-derived signals depends upon the presence of an effective leu-3 regulatory product and its effector α-isopropylmalate (α-IPM). In leu-3+ strains, threonine deaminase production is repressed as a function of available isoleucine, acetohydroxy acid synthetase as a function of valine, and the isomeroreductase and dihydroxy acid dehydratase as a function of isoleucine and leucine. In the absence of an effective leu-3 regulatory product, α-isopropylmalate, or both, the production of isoleucine and valine biosynthetic enzymes is fixed at or near fully repressed levels even under conditions of severe end product limitation. Thus, in addition to its involvement in the regulation of expression of the three structural genes of leucine synthesis, the leu-3 α-IPM regulatory product is necessary for full expression of at least four genes specifying the structure of the enzymes of isoleucine and valine synthesis. It is suggested that the leu-3 α-IPM regulatory element may facilitate transcription of the genetically dispersed cistrons either by imposing specificity on ribonucleic acid polymerase for structurally similar promoters adjacent to each of the cistrons or by “opening” promoters after interaction with nearly identical stretches of deoxyribonucleic acid near each of the structural genes.
PMCID: PMC246768  PMID: 4828304
14.  Genetics of leucine biosynthesis in Bacillus megaterium QM B1551. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1984;157(2):454-459.
Genes involved in the biosynthesis of leucine have been mapped in Bacillus megaterium QM B1551, using transducing phage MP13. Mutations were designated leuA, leuB, or leuC on the basis of enzyme assays. Two mutant strains were deficient in the enzyme activities of leuA (alpha-isopropylmalate synthase) and leuC (beta-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase) and so may contain polar mutations. Fine-structure transduction mapping established the gene order leuC-leuB-leuA-ilv-hem-phe. The orientation of the leu genes to the ilv gene is the same as in Bacillus subtilis, but the relationship in respect to two other linked markers, hem and phe, differs.
PMCID: PMC215269  PMID: 6420390
15.  Detection of leucine-independent DNA site occupancy of the yeast Leu3p transcriptional activator in vivo. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(8):4021-4030.
The product of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae LEU3 gene, Leu3p, is a transcriptional activator which regulates leucine biosynthesis in response to intracellular levels of leucine through the biosynthetic intermediate alpha-isopropylmalate. We devised a novel assay to examine the DNA site occupancy of Leu3p under different growth conditions, using a reporter gene with internal Leu3p-binding sites. Expression of the reporter is inhibited by binding of nuclear Leu3p to these sites; inhibition is dependent on the presence of the sites in the reporter, on the integrity of the Leu3p DNA-binding domain, and, surprisingly, on the presence of a transcriptional activation domain in the inhibiting protein. By this assay, Leu3p was found to occupy its binding site under all conditions tested, including high and low levels of leucine and in the presence and absence of alpha-isopropylmalate. The localization of Leu3p to the nucleus was confirmed by immunofluorescence staining of cells expressing epitope-tagged Leu3p derivatives. We conclude that Leu3p regulates transcription in vivo without changing its intracellular localization and DNA site occupancy.
PMCID: PMC230641  PMID: 7623798
16.  Evolution of a New Gene Substituting for the leuD Gene of Salmonella typhimurium: Characterization of supQ Mutations 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;119(3):937-951.
Alpha-isopropylmalate isomerase, the second specific enzyme in the biosynthesis of leucine, is coded for by two genes, leuC and leuD. Leucine auxotrophs, harboring leuD mutations including a deletion of the entire leuD gene, revert to leucine prototrophy owing to mutations at a locus, supQ, substantially distant to the leucine operon. A large number of independently isolated supQ mutations were characterized. A significant increase in the spontaneous frequency of supQ mutations was found after mutagenesis with 2-aminopurine, N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine, diethyl sulfate, and nitrous acid. The supQ function in most of these strains is temperature sensitive, resulting in more efficient suppression with decreasing temperature. At higher temperatures, the supQ limits the growth rate of leuD supQ mutant strains. All supQ mutations are co-transducible with proA and proB, with co-transduction frequencies ranging from 5.4 to 99.9% for different supQ mutations. Many supQ mutations were isolated, especially after nitrous acid mutagenesis, that had acquired a simultaneous proline requirement. The data support the idea of two genes, supQ and newD, whose protein products form a complex. The newD gene product, without any genetic alteration, is capable of substituting for the missing leuD protein. However, mutations in the supQ gene (point mutations or deletions) are necessary to make the newD protein available, which is normally tied up in a complex with the supQ protein.
PMCID: PMC245702  PMID: 4604457
17.  Wild-type isopropylmalate isomerase in Salmonella typhimurium is composed of two different subunits. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1981;148(1):210-219.
The isopropylmalate isomerase in Salmonella typhimurium is the second enzyme specific for leucine biosynthesis. It is a complex enzyme composed of two subunits which are coded for by two genes of the leucine operon, leuC and leuD. The two polypeptides have been shown to copurify through successive ammonium sulfate fractionations and have been identified on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels as having molecular weights of 51,000 (leuC gene product) and 23,500 (leuD gene product). They have also been shown to be fairly stable, since in vitro complementation of cell-free extracts of leuC and leuD mutant strains was demonstrated, with only a 40% loss of activity 16 h after preparation of the extracts. The native isopropylmalate isomerase was shown to have a Km for its substrate alpha-isopropylmalate of 3 x 10(-4)M.
PMCID: PMC216183  PMID: 7026530
18.  Two Origins for the Gene Encoding α-Isopropylmalate Synthase in Fungi 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11605.
The biosynthesis of leucine is a biochemical pathway common to prokaryotes, plants and fungi, but absent from humans and animals. The pathway is a proposed target for antimicrobial therapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we identified the leuA gene encoding α-isopropylmalate synthase in the zygomycete fungus Phycomyces blakesleeanus using a genetic mapping approach with crosses between wild type and leucine auxotrophic strains. To confirm the function of the gene, Phycomyces leuA was used to complement the auxotrophic phenotype exhibited by mutation of the leu3+ gene of the ascomycete fungus Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the leuA gene in Phycomyces, other zygomycetes, and the chytrids is more closely related to homologs in plants and photosynthetic bacteria than ascomycetes or basidiomycetes, and suggests that the Dikarya have acquired the gene more recently.
The identification of leuA in Phycomyces adds to the growing body of evidence that some primary metabolic pathways or parts of them have arisen multiple times during the evolution of fungi, probably through horizontal gene transfer events.
PMCID: PMC2904702  PMID: 20657649
19.  Biosynthesis of α-Isopropylmalic and Citric Acids in Acetobacter suboxydans 
Journal of Bacteriology  1967;94(3):512-516.
Cell-free extracts of Acetobacter suboxydans were prepared which were capable of condensing α-ketoisovalerate with 14C-labeled acetyl-coenzyme A to yield 14C-labeled α-isopropylmalate. The product of the reaction was isolated by paper and column chromatography and was characterized by recrystallization with synthetic α-isopropylmalic acid to constant specific radioactivity. The formation of α-isopropylmalate by extracts of A. suboxydans plus the ability of the organism to grow in a simple glucose-glycerol medium containing glutamic acid as the only amino acid indicate that the pathway for leucine biosynthesis shown to exist in yeast and Salmonella typhimurium also occurs in A. suboxydans. As a comparison, the condensation of oxalacetate and (14C) acetyl-coenzyme A to yield (14C) citric acid was shown, by similar means, to occur in A. suboxydans. This is of interest since the existence of this classical condensing enzyme has hitherto not been demonstrated in this organism. This reaction was further demonstrated in cell-free extracts of A. suboxydans by means of a spectrophotometric assay at 232 mμ which measured the cleavage of the carbon-sulfur bond of acetyl-coenzyme A in the presence of oxalacetate. Comparison of the specific activities of crude cell-free extracts indicated a much more extensive occurrence of this reaction in yeast than in A. suboxydans.
PMCID: PMC251915  PMID: 6035258
20.  Leucine biosynthesis in the blue-green bacterium Anacystis nidulans. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;124(2):810-814.
Leucine-requiring auxotrophs of the unicellular blue-green bacterium Anacystis nidulans have been isolated. Extracts of these mutants were deficient in alpha-isopropylmalate synthetase (EC In wild-type cells, this enzyme was subject to feedback inhibition by leucine. However, formation of the enzymes of leucine biosynthesis was little affected by exogenous leucine in either wild-type or mutant strains. Cultures of the latter subjected to extreme leucine deprivation showed no change in specific activity of beta-isopropylmalate isomerase (EC and at most a 50% increase in the specific activity of beta-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase (EC These results are compared with others bearing on the evolution of the control of amino acid biosynthesis in blue-green bacteria.
PMCID: PMC235971  PMID: 810483
21.  Evolution of a New Gene Substituting for the leuD Gene of Salmonella typhimurium: Origin and Nature of supQ and newD Mutations 
Journal of Bacteriology  1974;120(3):1176-1185.
The second specific enzyme in the biosynthesis of leucine, α-isopropylmalate isomerase, is coded for by two genes, leuC and leuD. Leucine auxotrophs carrying mutations in the leuD gene (including deletions of the entire leuD gene) revert to leucine prototrophy by secondary mutations at the locus supQ, which is located in the proline region of the chromosome. The mechanism of the supQ function is explained by the following model. The supQ gene and an additional gene, newD, code for two different subunits of a multimeric enzyme, whose normal function is yet to be determined. The newD gene protein is able, without genetic alterations, to form an active complex with the leuC protein, thus replacing the nonfunctional or missing leuD protein and restoring leucine prototrophy. The newD protein has, however, a higher affinity for the supQ protein than for the leuC protein; therefore, mutations in the supQ gene are needed to make sufficient amounts of the newD protein available. The following gene order has been established: gpt-proB-proA-ataA-supQ-newD. Different supQ mutations have been identified, i.e., insertion in the supQ gene, point mutations, and deletions of various extent. Some deletions remove the P22 phage attachment site ataA. Other supQ deletions are simultaneously Pro−, because they extend into the proA or proA and proB genes; some extend even further, i.e., into the gpt gene (guanine phosphoribosyl transferase). Mutations in the newD gene caused renewed leucine auxotrophy in leuD supQ mutant strains. One newD mutation causes a temperature-sensitive Leu+ phenotype. Alternate models for the supQ-newD interactions are discussed.
PMCID: PMC245897  PMID: 4612005
22.  Alternative pathways for biosynthesis of leucine and other amino acids in Bacteroides ruminicola and Bacteroides fragilis. 
Bacteroides ruminicola is one of several species of anaerobes that are able to reductively carboxylate isovalerate (or isovaleryl-coenzyme A) to synthesize alpha-ketoisocaproate and thus leucine. When isovalerate was not supplied to growing B. ruminicola cultures, carbon from [U-14C]glucose was used for the synthesis of leucine and other cellular amino acids. When unlabeled isovalerate was available, however, utilization of [U-14C]glucose or [2-14C]acetate for leucine synthesis was markedly and specifically reduced. Enzyme assays indicated that the key enzyme of the common isopropylmalate (IPM) pathway for leucine biosynthesis, IPM synthase, was present in B. ruminicola cell extracts. The specific activity of IPM synthase was reduced when leucine was added to the growth medium but was increased by the addition of isoleucine plus valine, whereas the addition of isovalerate had little or no effect. The activity of B. ruminicola IPM synthase was strongly inhibited by leucine, the end product of the pathway. It seems unlikely that the moderate inhibition of the enzyme by isovalerate adequately explains the regulation of carbon flow by isovalerate in growing cultures. Bacteroides fragilis apparently also uses either the isovalerate carboxylation or the IPM pathway for leucine biosynthesis. Furthermore, both of these organisms synthesize isoleucine and phenylalanine, using carbon from 2-methylbutyrate and phenylacetate, respectively, in preference to synthesis of these amino acids de novo from glucose. Thus, it appears that these organisms have the ability to regulate alternative pathways for the biosynthesis of certain amino acids and that pathways involving reductive carboxylations are likely to be favored in their natural habitats.
PMCID: PMC241695  PMID: 6440485
23.  Separate regulation of transport and biosynthesis of leucine, isoleucine, and valine in bacteria. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;122(3):994-1000.
Since both transport activity and the leucine biosynthetic enzymes are repressed by growth on leucine, the regulation of leucine, isoleucine, and valine biosynthetic enzymes was examined in Escherichia coli K-12 strain EO312, a constitutively derepressed branched-chain amino acid transport mutant, to determine if the transport derepression affected the biosynthetic enzymes. Neither the iluB gene product, acetohydroxy acid synthetase (acetolactate synthetase, EC, NOR THE LEUB gene product, 3-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase (2-hydroxy-4-methyl-3-carboxyvalerate-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide oxido-reductase, EC, were significantly affected in their level of derepression or repression compared to the parental strain. A number of strains with alterations in the regulation of the branched-chain amino acid biosynthetic enzymes were examined for the regulation of the shock-sensitive transport system for these amino acids (LIV-I). When transport activity was examined in strains with mutations leading to derepression of the iluB, iluADE, and leuABCD gene clusters, the regulation of the LIV-I transport system was found to be normal. The regulation of transport in an E. coli strain B/r with a deletion of the entire leucine biosynthetic operon was normal, indicating none of the gene products of this operon are required for regulation of transport. Salmonella typhimurium LT2 strain leu-500, a single-site mutation affecting both promotor-like and operator-like function of the leuABCD gene cluster, also had normal regulation of the LIV-I transport system. All of the strains contained leucine-specific transport activity, which was also repressed by growth in media containing leucine, isoleucine and valine. The concentrated shock fluids from these strains grown in minimal medium or with excess leucine, isoleucine, and valine were examined for proteins with leucine-binding activity, and the levels of these proteins were found to be regulated normally. It appears that the branched-chain amino acid transport systems and biosynthetic enzymes in E. coli strains K-12 and B/r and in S. typhimurium strain LT2 are not regulated together by a cis-dominate type of mechanism, although both systems may have components in common.
PMCID: PMC246151  PMID: 1097409
24.  The Essentiality of Staphylococcal Gcp Is Independent of Its Repression of Branched-Chain Amino Acids Biosynthesis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46836.
Our previous studies revealed that the staphylococcal protein Gcp is essential for bacterial growth; however, the essential function of Gcp remains undefined. In this study, we demonstrated that Gcp plays an important role in the modulation of the branched-chain amino acids biosynthesis pathway. Specifically, we identified that the depletion of Gcp dramatically elevated the production of key enzymes that are encoded in the ilv-leu operon and responsible for the biosynthesis of the branched-chain amino acids isoleucine, leucine, and valine (ILV) using proteomic approaches. Using qPCR and promoter-lux reporter fusions, we established that Gcp negatively modulates the transcription of the ilv-leu operon. Gel-shift assays revealed that Gcp lacks the capacity to bind the promoter region of ilv. Moreover, we found that the depletion of Gcp did not influence the transcription level of CodY, a known repressor of the ilv-leu operon, while induced the transcription of CcpA, a known positive regulator of the ilv-leu operon. In addition, the depletion of Gcp decreased the biosynthesis of N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine (t6A). To elucidate whether the essentiality of Gcp is attributable to its negative modulation of ILV biosynthesis, we determined the impact of the ilv-leu operon on the requirement of Gcp for growth, and revealed that the deletion of the ilv-leu operon did not affect the essentiality of Gcp. Taken together, our results indicate that the essentiality of Gcp isn’t attributable to its negative regulation of ILV biosynthesis in S. aureus. These findings provide new insights into the biological function of the staphylococcal Gcp.
PMCID: PMC3464209  PMID: 23056478
25.  Evidence that alpha-isopropylmalate synthase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is under the "general" control of amino acid biosynthesis. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1982;150(2):969-972.
The specific activity and the immunoreactive amount of alpha-isopropylmalate synthase were more than three times above wild-type values in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant (cdr1) with constitutively derepressed levels of enzymes known to be under the "general" control of amino acid biosynthesis. The specific activity was also higher in lysine- and arginine-leaky strains when these were grown under limiting conditions, and in wild-type cells grown in the presence of 5-methyltryptophan. A low specific activity was found in a mutant (ndr1) unable to derepress enzymes of the general control system. Neither isopropylmalate isomerase nor beta-isopropylmalate dehydrogenase responded to general control signals.
PMCID: PMC216453  PMID: 7040348

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