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1.  Occurrence of Transsulfuration in Synthesis of l-Homocysteine in an Extremely Thermophilic Bacterium, Thermus thermophilus HB8 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(6):2086-2092.
A cell extract of an extremely thermophilic bacterium, Thermus thermophilus HB8, cultured in a synthetic medium catalyzed cystathionine γ-synthesis with O-acetyl-l-homoserine and l-cysteine as substrates but not β-synthesis with dl-homocysteine and l-serine (or O-acetyl-l-serine). The amounts of synthesized enzymes metabolizing sulfur-containing amino acids were estimated by determining their catalytic activities in cell extracts. The syntheses of cysthathionine β-lyase (EC and O-acetyl-l-serine sulfhydrylase (EC were markedly repressed by l-methionine supplemented to the medium. l-Cysteine and glutathione, both at 0.5 mM, added to the medium as the sole sulfur source repressed the synthesis of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase by 55 and 73%, respectively, confirming that this enzyme functions as a cysteine synthase. Methionine employed at 1 to 5 mM in the same way derepressed the synthesis of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase 2.1- to 2.5-fold. A method for assaying a low concentration of sulfide (0.01 to 0.05 mM) liberated from homocysteine by determining cysteine synthesized with it in the presence of excess amounts of O-acetylserine and a purified preparation of the sulfhydrylase was established. The extract of cells catalyzed the homocysteine γ-lyase reaction, with a specific activity of 5 to 7 nmol/min/mg of protein, but not the methionine γ-lyase reaction. These results suggested that cysteine was also synthesized under the conditions employed by the catalysis of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase using sulfur of homocysteine derived from methionine. Methionine inhibited O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase markedly. The effects of sulfur sources added to the medium on the synthesis of O-acetylhomoserine sulfhydrylase and the inhibition of the enzyme activity by methionine were mostly understood by assuming that the organism has two proteins having O-acetylhomoserine sulfhydrylase activity, one of which is cystathionine γ-synthase. Although it has been reported that homocysteine is directly synthesized in T. thermophilus HB27 by the catalysis of O-acetylhomoserine sulfhydrylase on the basis of genetic studies (T. Kosuge, D. Gao, and T. Hoshino, J. Biosci. Bioeng. 90:271–279, 2000), the results obtained in this study for the behaviors of related enzymes indicate that sulfur is first incorporated into cysteine and then transferred to homocysteine via cystathionine in T. thermophilus HB8.
PMCID: PMC95106  PMID: 11222609
2.  Schistosomiasis Mansoni: Novel Chemotherapy Using a Cysteine Protease Inhibitor 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(1):e14.
Schistosomiasis is a chronic, debilitating parasitic disease infecting more than 200 million people and is second only to malaria in terms of public health importance. Due to the lack of a vaccine, patient therapy is heavily reliant on chemotherapy with praziquantel as the World Health Organization–recommended drug, but concerns over drug resistance encourage the search for new drug leads.
Methods and Findings
The efficacy of the vinyl sulfone cysteine protease inhibitor K11777 was tested in the murine model of schistosomiasis mansoni. Disease parameters measured were worm and egg burdens, and organ pathology including hepato- and splenomegaly, presence of parasite egg–induced granulomas in the liver, and levels of circulating alanine aminotransferase activity as a marker of hepatocellular function. K11777 (25 mg/kg twice daily [BID]), administered intraperitoneally at the time of parasite migration through the skin and lungs (days 1–14 postinfection [p.i.]), resulted in parasitologic cure (elimination of parasite eggs) in five of seven cases and a resolution of other disease parameters. K11777 (50 mg/kg BID), administered at the commencement of egg-laying by mature parasites (days 30–37 p.i.), reduced worm and egg burdens, and ameliorated organ pathology. Using protease class-specific substrates and active-site labeling, one molecular target of K11777 was identified as the gut-associated cathepsin B1 cysteine protease, although other cysteine protease targets are not excluded. In rodents, dogs, and primates, K11777 is nonmutagenic with satisfactory safety and pharmacokinetic profiles.
The significant reduction in parasite burden and pathology by this vinyl sulfone cysteine protease inhibitor validates schistosome cysteine proteases as drug targets and offers the potential of a new direction for chemotherapy of human schistosomiasis.
A significant reduction in parasite burden and pathology by a vinyl sulfone cysteine protease inhibitor suggests a new direction for chemotherapy of human schistosomiasis.
Editors' Summary
Schistosomiasis, a disease caused by a type of parasitic flatworm that lives in the blood, infects around 200 million people worldwide. The disease is a serious problem in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, China, and southeast Asia. Although this disease can kill, it is better known as a lifelong chronic infection with debilitating symptoms mainly due to an immune reaction raised against parasite eggs trapped in the liver, spleen, and gut. The worm's life cycle is complicated and involves a free-swimming form that emerges from certain types of snails that live in lakes and ponds. This can penetrate the skin of people in contact with the water. After a period spent in the skin and around the lungs, the parasites move to veins around the gut, and develop into adult worms that mate and lay eggs. These eggs eventually return to the water through the person's feces or urine. A particular group of proteins called cysteine proteases are thought to be very important in the biology of these worms, especially in their function as digestive enzymes in the parasite's gut. These proteases could represent an exciting opportunity for development of new drugs to treat schistosomiasis. The researchers are looking at whether it is possible to block the activity of cysteine proteases and, as a result, kill the worms or prevent them from developing and thriving.
Why Was This Study Done?
At the moment there is only one drug, praziquantel, in common use for treatment of schistosomiasis; it is cheap and effective. However many organizations are worried about relying on a single drug to treat a serious disease which affects so many people worldwide. The research group here has been looking at molecules that block cysteine protease activity, to see if any of these could be good drug candidates for schistosomiasis. One molecule they have been looking at goes by the name of K11777, which is under evaluation as a drug candidate for another parasitic infection (Chagas' disease). Here, the researchers wanted to find out whether K11777 had any activity against schistosome worms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In this study, the researchers deliberately infected laboratory mice with the schistosome parasite. These mice were then either injected with K11777 solution twice daily, or with equivalent volumes of water as a comparison. The researchers examined the effects of injecting K11777 either “early” in infection (using a 14 day course, starting 1 day after infection with the parasite) or “late” in the worms' development (using an 8 day treatment course starting 30 days after infection). The outcomes used as measures of success of treatment with K11777 included the number of worms recovered from mice after euthanasia, the number of worm eggs counted in the liver; the extent of the damage to the liver; and finally, the researchers also looked at activity levels of cysteine proteases in the worms themselves, in particular, those proteases associated with the parasite gut.
The results of the early-treatment experiment showed a substantial decrease in worm numbers and egg production. In five of the seven mice treated, eggs were eliminated entirely. Also, there was little measurable liver damage. For the late-treatment experiment, decreased burdens of worms and eggs in the livers of K11777 treated mice were also found, and there was less damage to the livers. Those worms surviving treatment and removed from mice also had much less activity of gut cysteine proteases suggesting that K11777 exerts its effects by targeting worm cysteine proteases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These experiments show that K11777 is a potent antischistosomal agent in mice. It might therefore be a good ‘candidate' molecule for developing future treatments for human schistosomiasis. However, before that stage can be reached, it would be important to carry out clinical trials to test whether K11777 is both safe and effective in schistosomiasis patients. Full details as to which worm cysteine protease(s) is the critical target of K11777 would also need to be worked out, and more information would be needed as to whether the dosing plan used in this study (twice-daily injections for a week to 14 days) can be decreased.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
World Health Organization pages about schistosomiasis including links to details on further research into the disease
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control for patients and health professionals about schistosomiasis
Wikipedia pages on schistosomiasis (Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases is a new journal from the Public Library of Science that is devoted to publishing research on the world's most neglected tropical diseases, including schistosomiasis
PMCID: PMC1764436  PMID: 17214506
3.  Nitroimidazole Action in Entamoeba histolytica: A Central Role for Thioredoxin Reductase 
PLoS Biology  2007;5(8):e211.
Metronidazole, a 5-nitroimidazole drug, has been the gold standard for several decades in the treatment of infections with microaerophilic protist parasites, including Entamoeba histolytica. For activation, the drug must be chemically reduced, but little is known about the targets of the active metabolites. Applying two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry, we searched for protein targets in E. histolytica. Of all proteins visualized, only five were found to form adducts with metronidazole metabolites: thioredoxin, thioredoxin reductase, superoxide dismutase, purine nucleoside phosphorylase, and a previously unknown protein. Recombinant thioredoxin reductase carrying the modification displayed reduced enzymatic activity. In treated cells, essential non-protein thiols such as free cysteine were also affected by covalent adduct formation, their levels being drastically reduced. Accordingly, addition of cysteine allowed E. histolytica to survive in the presence of otherwise lethal metronidazole concentrations and reduced protein adduct formation. Finally, we discovered that thioredoxin reductase reduces metronidazole and other nitro compounds, suggesting a new model of metronidazole activation in E. histolytica with a central role for thioredoxin reductase. By reducing metronidazole, the enzyme renders itself and associated thiol-containing proteins vulnerable to adduct formation. Because thioredoxin reductase is a ubiquitous enzyme, similar processes could occur in other eukaryotic or prokaryotic organisms.
Author Summary
The protist parasites Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Giardia intestinalis grow in environments with low oxygen concentration. Infections with these parasites are commonly treated with metronidazole, a nitroimidazole drug that must be reduced for activation, resulting in several toxic metabolites. We examined the soluble proteome of metronidazole-treated E. histolytica cells for target proteins of these metabolites, applying two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. Of about 1,500 proteins visualized, only five formed covalent adducts with metronidazole metabolites, including thioredoxin, thioredoxin reductase, and superoxide dismutase. Metronidazole-bound thioredoxin reductase displayed diminished activity. In addition to these proteins, small thiol molecules, including cysteine, formed adducts with metronidazole. Supplementation with cysteine allowed the cells to survive otherwise lethal metronidazole concentrations. Finally, we discovered that one of the modified proteins, thioredoxin reductase, reduces metronidazole, suggesting a central role for this enzyme with regard to metronidazole toxicity. Taken together, our work reveals a new area of molecular interactions of activated metronidazole with cellular components. Because thioredoxin reductase is a ubiquitous enzyme, similar processes could also occur in other eukaryotic or prokaryotic organisms.
Metronidazole is used for treatment of infections with microaerophilic protist parasites. Here, a new model of metronidazole activation is proposed, with a central role for thioredoxin reductase.
PMCID: PMC1933457  PMID: 17676992
4.  Biosynthesis of Phosphoserine in the Methanococcales▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(2):575-582.
Methanococcus maripaludis and Methanocaldococcus jannaschii produce cysteine for protein synthesis using a tRNA-dependent pathway. These methanogens charge tRNACys with l-phosphoserine, which is also an intermediate in the predicted pathways for serine and cystathionine biosynthesis. To establish the mode of phosphoserine production in Methanococcales, cell extracts of M. maripaludis were shown to have phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase and phosphoserine aminotransferase activities. The heterologously expressed and purified phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase from M. maripaludis had enzymological properties similar to those of its bacterial homologs but was poorly inhibited by serine. While bacterial enzymes are inhibited by micromolar concentrations of serine bound to an allosteric site, the low sensitivity of the archaeal protein to serine is consistent with phosphoserine's position as a branch point in several pathways. A broad-specificity class V aspartate aminotransferase from M. jannaschii converted the phosphohydroxypyruvate product to phosphoserine. This enzyme catalyzed the transamination of aspartate, glutamate, phosphoserine, alanine, and cysteate. The M. maripaludis homolog complemented a serC mutation in the Escherichia coli phosphoserine aminotransferase. All methanogenic archaea apparently share this pathway, providing sufficient phosphoserine for the tRNA-dependent cysteine biosynthetic pathway.
PMCID: PMC1797378  PMID: 17071763
5.  Trichomonad invasion of the mucous layer requires adhesins, mucinases, and motility 
Sexually Transmitted Infections  1999;75(4):231-238.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Trichomonas vaginalis, the causal agent of trichomonosis, is a flagellated parasitic protozoan that colonises the epithelial cells of the human urogenital tract. The ability of T vaginalis to colonise this site is in part a function of its ability to circumvent a series of non-specific host defences including the mucous layer covering epithelial cells at the site of infection. Mucin, the framework molecule of mucus, forms a lattice structure that serves as a formidable physical barrier to microbial invasion. The mechanism by which trichomonads traverse the mucous covering is unknown. Proteolytic degradation of mucin, however, may provide for a mechanism to penetrate this layer. The goal, therefore, was to determine how trichomonads cross through a mucous layer. METHODS: Secreted trichomonad proteinases were analysed for mucinase activity by mucin substrate-sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The importance of trichomonad mucinases for traversing the mucous layer was examined on an artificial mucin layer in invasion chambers. Adherence to mucin and tissue culture cells was measured using a microtitre plate assay. RESULTS: Trichomonad isolate 24402 secreted five proteinases when incubated in PBS. All five proteinases were shown to possess mucinase activity. These mucinases were able to degrade bovine submaxillary mucin and to a lesser extent porcine stomach mucin. These enzymes were active over a pH range of 4.5-7.0 and were inhibited with cysteine proteinase inhibitors. Furthermore, T vaginalis was shown to bind to mucin possibly via a lectin-like adhesin. Adherence to mucin was increased threefold when parasites were grown in iron deficient medium. Adherence to soluble mucin prevented attachment to HeLa cells. Proteinase activity, adherence, and motility were required for trichomonads to traverse a mucin layer in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that trichomonads can traverse the mucous barrier first by binding mucin followed by its proteolytic degradation. The data further underscore the importance of trichomonad proteinases in the pathogenesis of trichomonosis. Finally, this study suggests that interference with trichomonad mucin receptors and proteinases may be a strategy to prevent colonisation by this parasite. 

PMCID: PMC1758222  PMID: 10615308
6.  Degradations of human immunoglobulins and hemoglobin by a 60 kDa cysteine proteinase of Trichomonas vaginalis 
The present study was undertaken to investigate the role of cysteine proteinase of Trichomonas vaginalis in escaping from host defense mechanism. A cysteine proteinase of T. vaginalis was purified by affinity chromatography and gel filtration. Optimum pH for the purified proteinase activity was 6.0. The proteinase was inhibited by cysteine and serine proteinase inhibitors such as E-64, NEM, IAA, leupeptin, TPCK and TLCK, and also by Hg2+, but not affected by serine-, metallo-, and aspartic proteinase inhibitors such as PMSF, EDTA and pepstatin A. However, it was activated by the cysteine proteinase activator, DTT. The molecular weight of a purified proteinase was 62 kDa on gel filtration and 60 kDa on SDS-PAGE. Interestingly, the purified proteinase was able to degrade serum IgA, secretory IgA, and serum IgG in time- and dose-dependent manners. In addition, the enzyme also degraded hemoglobin in a dose-dependent manner. These results suggest that the acidic cysteine proteinase of T. vaginalis may play a dual role for parasite survival in conferring escape from host humoral defense by degradation of immunoglobulins, and in supplying nutrients to parasites by degradation of hemoglobin.
PMCID: PMC2732966  PMID: 9868892
Trichomonas vaginalis; cysteine proteinase; degradation; immunoglobulins; hemoglobin
7.  Regulation of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase B by L-cysteine in Salmonella typhimurium. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1979;140(1):141-146.
A technique based on resistance to azaserine was used to isolate mutants lacking O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase B, one of two enzymes in Salmonella typhimurium capable of synthesizing L-cysteine from O-acetyl-L-serine and sulfide. The mutant locus responsible for this defect has been designated cysM, and genetic mapping suggests that cysM is very close to and perhaps contiguous with cysA. Strains lacking either O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase B or the second sulfhydrylase, O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase A (coded for by cysK), are cysteine prototrophs, but cysK cysM double mutants were found to require cysteine for growth. O-Acetylserine sulfhydrylase B was depressed by growth on a poor sulfur source, and depression was dependent upon both a functional cysB regulatory gene product and the internal inducer of the cysteine biosynthetic pathway, O-acetyl-L-serine. Furthermore, a cysBc strain, in which other cysteine biosynthetic enzymes cannot be fully repressed by growth on L-cystine, was found to be constitutive for O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase B as well. Thus O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase B is regulated by the same factors that control the expression of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase A and other activities of the cysteine regulon. It is not clear why S. typhimurium has two enzymes whose physiological function appears to be to catalyze the same step of L-cysteine biosynthesis.
PMCID: PMC216789  PMID: 387718
8.  The vagina has reducing environment sufficient for activation of Trichomonas vaginalis cysteine proteinases. 
Genitourinary Medicine  1997;73(4):291-296.
BACKGROUND: Trichomonas vaginalis, a worldwide distributed sexually transmitted protozoan, is remarkable for synthesis of numerous, distinct cysteine proteinases, the significance of which is evidenced by the presence in vivo of soluble proteinases in secretions and antiproteinase antibody in serum of patients with trichomonosis. These proteinases purportedly play a role in host parasitism and immune evasion. OBJECTIVE: It is known that for cysteine proteinases to be functional, they must be activated by disulphide reducing reagents. Whether or not the host vaginal environment has the reducing environment essential for activation of the trichomonad cysteine proteinases is unknown. Our goal, therefore, was to determine whether or not vaginal secretions had sufficient reducing power to activate the trichomonad proteinases. METHODS: 48 vaginal washes (VWs) from patients were assayed for reducing equivalents and a score in dithiothreitol (DTT) reducing equivalents was assigned to each VW. Activation of trichomonad cysteine proteinases was then tested under the range of reducing equivalents detected from VWs. The possible protective effect of hydrogen peroxide, an oxidising agent produced by some Lactobacillus species, on proteinase activity was also determined. RESULTS: Nine of 48 VWs (18.7%) possessed < or = 10 microM DTT reducing equivalents, four VWs (8.3%) had from 20 microM DTT to 40 microM DTT reducing equivalents, and most (50%) were between 10 microM to 15 microM. Overall, the range in VWs was from approximately 10 microM to 40 microM reducing equivalents. Importantly, data suggest differential proteinase activation over this in vivo range of reducing level. Only two T vaginalis cysteine proteinase activities were stimulated at 2.5 microM DTT in contrast with all proteinase activities present at 40 microM DTT, albeit quantitatively diminished compared with the activity at 1 mM DTT, the concentration routinely used in vitro. Finally, hydrogen peroxide reversibly neutralised all trichomonad proteinases. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that the vagina of women has a reducing environment adequate for activation of trichomonad proteinases. The data underscore that the host environment plays a role in the host-parasite interrelation. Finally, hypotheses can now be formulated to help explain resistance and susceptibility to infection commonly reported among women and between men and women with trichomonosis.
PMCID: PMC1195862  PMID: 9389953
9.  Analysis of human immunoglobulin-degrading cysteine proteinases of Trichomonas vaginalis. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(9):3388-3395.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a protozoan parasite that causes a widely distributed sexually transmitted disease (STD). Since immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to specific trichomonad immunogens are found in serum and vaginal washes (VWs) from patients with trichomoniasis, a potential mechanism of immune evasion by this parasite might be the ability of T. vaginalis proteinases to degrade human immunoglobulins (Igs). Incubation of human IgG with lysates of T. vaginalis organisms resulted in time- and concentration-dependent degradation of the heavy chain. Secretory IgA was degraded similarly. Inhibitors of cysteine proteinases, when added to trichomonal lysates, abolished IgG and IgA degradation, while EDTA, a metalloproteinase inhibitor, did not. Substrate-gel electrophoresis with human IgG, IgM, or IgA copolymerized with acrylamide revealed several distinct cysteine proteinases in both lysates and culture supernatants from logarithmically growing parasites that degraded all classes of human antibodies. Trichomonal lysates and supernatants of numerous isolates tested all had Ig-degrading activity. Finally, proteolytic activity against IgG was detected in most (26 of 33; 78%) VWs from patients with trichomoniasis. In contrast, 18 of 28 (65%) VWs from women without trichomoniasis or from patients infected with other STDs had no detectable proteinases when tested in an identical manner. The other 10 of these 28 VWs (35%) had smaller amounts of detectable Ig-degrading proteinases. These differences in Ig-degrading proteinase activity between patients with and without trichomoniasis, regardless of coinfecting STDs, were statistically significant (P = 0.001). These results illustrate that T. vaginalis is capable of degrading human Igs.
PMCID: PMC173466  PMID: 7642267
10.  Trichomonas vaginalis Polyamine Metabolism Is Linked to Host Cell Adherence and Cytotoxicity  
Infection and Immunity  2005;73(5):2602-2610.
Trichomonas vaginalis secretes putrescine that is readily detected in vaginal secretions. We wanted to examine the effect of decreased putrescine synthesis by inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) on T. vaginalis. One reason is because inhibition of Tritrichomonas foetus ODC results in growth arrest, destruction of hydrogenosomes, and decreased amounts of hydrogenosomal enzymes. Treatment of T. vaginalis T016 with ≥20 mM 1,4-diamino-2-butanone (DAB) to inhibit ODC resulted in growth arrest, which was reversed by addition of exogenous putrescine. No similar reversal of growth arrest was achieved with the polyamines spermine or spermidine or with iron. Electron microscopic examination of control versus DAB-treated trichomonads did not reveal any adverse effects on the number and integrity of hydrogenosomes. Further, the adhesins AP65, AP51, and AP33 mediating binding to immortalized vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) share identity to enzymes of the hydrogenosome organelle, and there was no difference in amounts of adhesins between control versus DAB-treated T. vaginalis parasites. Likewise, similar patterns and extent of fluorescence were evident for the prominent AP65 adhesin. Surprisingly, DAB treatment increased by 4- to 20-fold above untreated trichomonads handled identically the level of adherence mediated by adhesins. Interestingly, the enhanced attachment to VECs was reversed by exogenous putrescine added to DAB-treated trichomonads. Equally noteworthy was that DAB-treated T. vaginalis with enhanced adherence did not possess the previously reported ability to kill host cells in a contact-dependent fashion mediated by cysteine proteinases, and total cysteine proteinase activity patterns were identical between control and DAB-treated trichomonads. Overall, these data suggest that polyamine metabolism and secreted putrescine are linked to host cell adherence and cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC1087355  PMID: 15845462
11.  Characterization of a Novel Thermostable O-Acetylserine Sulfhydrylase from Aeropyrum pernix K1 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(7):2277-2284.
An O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase (OASS) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Aeropyrum pernix K1, which shares the pyridoxal 5′-phosphate binding motif with both OASS and cystathionine β-synthase (CBS), was cloned and expressed by using Escherichia coli Rosetta(DE3). The purified protein was a dimer and contained pyridoxal 5′-phosphate. It was shown to be an enzyme with CBS activity as well as OASS activity in vitro. The enzyme retained 90% of its activity after a 6-h incubation at 100°C. In the O-acetyl-l-serine sulfhydrylation reaction, it had a pH optimum of 6.7, apparent Km values for O-acetyl-l-serine and sulfide of 28 and below 0.2 mM, respectively, and a rate constant of 202 s−1. In the l-cystathionine synthetic reaction, it showed a broad pH optimum in the range of 8.1 to 8.8, apparent Km values for l-serine and l-homocysteine of 8 and 0.51 mM, respectively, and a rate constant of 0.7 s−1. A. pernix OASS has a high activity in the l-cysteine desulfurization reaction, which produces sulfide and S-(2,3-hydroxy-4-thiobutyl)-l-cysteine from l-cysteine and dithiothreitol.
PMCID: PMC151494  PMID: 12644499
12.  Cysteine Metabolism in Legionella pneumophila: Characterization of an l-Cystine-Utilizing Mutant 
Growth of Legionella pneumophila on buffered charcoal-yeast extract (BCYE) medium is dependent on l-cysteine (but not l-cystine), which is added in excess over what is required for nutrition. We investigated the biochemical and genetic bases for this unusual requirement and determined that much of the l-cysteine in BCYE medium is rapidly oxidized to l-cystine and is unavailable to the bacteria. Analysis of cysteine consumption during bacterial growth indicated that of the 11% consumed, 3.85% (∼0.1 mM) was incorporated into biomass. The activities of two key cysteine biosynthetic enzymes (serine acetyltransferase and cysteine synthase) were not detected in cell extracts of L. pneumophila, and the respective genes were not present in the genome sequences, confirming cysteine auxotrophy. Kinetic studies identified two energy-dependent cysteine transporters, one with high affinity (apparent Km, 3.29 μM) and the other with low affinity (apparent Km, 93 μM), each of which was inhibited by the uncoupling agent carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone. Cystine was not transported by L. pneumophila; however, a mutant strain capable of growth on l-cystine (CYS1 mutant) transported l-cystine with similar kinetics (Km, 4.4 μM and 90 μM). Based on the bipartite kinetics, requirement for proton motive force, and inhibitor studies, we suggest that a high-affinity periplasmic binding protein and a major facilitator/symporter (low affinity) mediate uptake. The latter most likely is functional at high cysteine concentrations and most likely displays altered substrate specificity in the CYS-1 mutant. Our studies provide biochemical evidence to support a general view that L. pneumophila is restricted to an intracellular lifestyle in natural environments by an inability to utilize cystine, which most likely ensures that the dormant cyst-like transmissible forms do not germinate outside suitable protozoan hosts.
PMCID: PMC1489648  PMID: 16751507
13.  A Metazoan/Plant-like Capping Enzyme and Cap Modified Nucleotides in the Unicellular Eukaryote Trichomonas vaginalis 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(7):e1000999.
The cap structure of eukaryotic messenger RNAs is initially elaborated through three enzymatic reactions: hydrolysis of the 5′-triphosphate, transfer of guanosine through a 5′-5′ triphosphate linkage and N7-methylation of the guanine cap. Three distinctive enzymes catalyze each reaction in various microbial eukaryotes, whereas the first two enzymes are fused into a single polypeptide in metazoans and plants. In addition to the guanosine cap, adjacent nucleotides are 2′-O-ribose methylated in metazoa and plants, but not in yeast. Analyses of various cap structures have suggested a linear phylogenetic trend of complexity. These findings have led to a model in which plants and metazoa evolved a two-component capping apparatus and modification of adjacent nucleotides while many microbial eukaryotes maintained the three-component system and did not develop modification of adjacent nucleotides. Here, we have characterized a bifunctional capping enzyme in the divergent microbial eukaryote Trichomonas vaginalis using biochemical and phylogenetic analyses. This unicellular parasite was found to harbor a metazoan/plant-like capping apparatus that is represented by a two-domain polypeptide containing a C-terminus guanylyltransferase and a cysteinyl phosphatase triphosphatase, distinct from its counterpart in other microbial eukaryotes. In addition, T. vaginalis mRNAs contain a cap 1 structure represented by m7GpppAmpUp or m7GpppCmpUp; a feature typical of metazoan and plant mRNAs but absent in yeast mRNAs. Phylogenetic and biochemical analyses of the origin of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme suggests a complex evolutionary model where differential gene loss and/or acquisition occurred in the development of the RNA capping apparatus and cap modified nucleotides during eukaryote diversification.
Author Summary
The protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis is the cause of the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Evolutionary analyses place Trichomonas in a super group called the Excavata, which includes the kinetoplastids and is highly divergent from fungi, metazoa and plants. Despite the vast evolutionary distances that separate these different eukaryotic lineages, a simplified view of eukaryotic evolution based on the complexity of nucleotide modifications at the 5′ end of mRNAs and the distribution of different types of enzymatic apparatus that confer these modifications has been proposed. Our analyses of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme challenges this view and provides the first example of a two-component capping apparatus typically found in metazoa and plants in a protozoan. The 5′-end nucleotide structure of T. vaginalis mRNAs is also shown to contain additional modified nucleotides, similar to that observed for metazoan and plant mRNAs and unlike that found in most eukaryotic microbes and fungi. Evolutionary analyses of the T. vaginalis capping enzyme indicates that this multicellular type capping apparatus may have come into existence earlier than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC2904801  PMID: 20664792
14.  Unexpected properties of NADP-dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH-1) in Trichomonas vaginalis and other microaerophilic parasites 
Experimental Parasitology  2013;134(3):374-380.
Graphical abstract
CoA inhibits the oxidation of 2-propanol and the reduction of acetaldehyde, acetone and a yet unidentified “background” substrate by ADH-1.
•Trichomonas vaginalis NADPH-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase-1 (ADH-1) reduces acetaldehyde and acetone, and oxidizes 2-propanol.•In addition to its canonical function, a strong reducing background activity was observed.•All reactions catalyzed by ADH-1 are strongly inhibited by CoA.•These observations also apply for the parasites Entamoeba histolytica and Tritrichomonas foetus, but not for Giardia lamblia which lacks ADH-1.
Our previous observation that NADP-dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH-1) is down-regulated in metronidazole-resistant Trichomonas vaginalis isolates prompted us to further characterise the enzyme. In addition to its canonical enzyme activity as a secondary alcohol dehydrogenase, a pronounced, so far unknown, background NADPH-oxidising activity in absence of any added substrate was observed when the recombinant enzyme or T. vaginalis extract were used. This activity was strongly enhanced at low oxygen concentrations. Unexpectedly, all functions of ADH-1 were efficiently inhibited by coenzyme A which is a cofactor of a number of key enzymes in T. vaginalis metabolism, i.e. pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PFOR). These observations could be extended to Entamoeba histolytica and Tritrichomonas foetus, both of which have a homologue of ADH-1, but not to Giardia lamblia which lacks an NADP-dependent secondary alcohol dehydrogenase.
Although we could not identify the substrate of the observed background activity, we propose that ADH-1 functions as a major sink for NADPH in microaerophilic parasites at low oxygen tension.
PMCID: PMC3682184  PMID: 23578856
Trichomonas vaginalis; NADP-dependent alcohol dehydrogenase-1; Background activity; CoA
15.  Clinical and Microbiological Aspects of Trichomonas vaginalis 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  1998;11(2):300-317.
Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasitic protozoan, is the etiologic agent of trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) of worldwide importance. Trichomoniasis is the most common nonviral STD, and it is associated with many perinatal complications, male and female genitourinary tract infections, and an increased incidence of HIV transmission. Diagnosis is difficult, since the symptoms of trichomoniasis mimic those of other STDs and detection methods lack precision. Although current treatment protocols involving nitroimidazoles are curative, metronidazole resistance is on the rise, outlining the need for research into alternative antibiotics. Vaccine development has been limited by a lack of understanding of the role of the host immune response to T. vaginalis infection. The lack of a good animal model has made it difficult to conduct standardized studies in drug and vaccine development and pathogenesis. Current work on pathogenesis has focused on the host-parasite relationship, in particular the initial events required to establish infection. These studies have illustrated that the pathogenesis of T. vaginalis is indeed very complex and involves adhesion, hemolysis, and soluble factors such as cysteine proteinases and cell-detaching factor. T. vaginalis interaction with the members of the resident vaginal flora, an advanced immune evasion strategy, and certain stress responses enable the organism to survive in its changing environment. Clearly, further research and collaboration will help elucidate these pathogenic mechanisms, and with better knowledge will come improved disease control.
PMCID: PMC106834  PMID: 9564565
16.  Transsulfuration is an active pathway for cysteine biosynthesis in Trypanosoma rangeli 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:197.
Cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, plays an important role in a variety of cellular functions such as protein biosynthesis, methylation, and polyamine and glutathione syntheses. In trypanosomatids, glutathione is conjugated with spermidine to form the specific antioxidant thiol trypanothione (T[SH]2) that plays a central role in maintaining intracellular redox homeostasis and providing defence against oxidative stress.
We cloned and characterised genes coding for a cystathionine β-synthase (CβS) and cysteine synthase (CS), key enzymes of the transsulfuration and assimilatory pathways, respectively, from the hemoflagellate protozoan parasite Trypanosoma rangeli.
Our results show that T. rangeli CβS (TrCβS), similar to its homologs in T. cruzi, contains the catalytic domain essential for enzymatic activity. Unlike the enzymes in bacteria, plants, and other parasites, T. rangeli CS lacks two of the four lysine residues (Lys26 and Lys184) required for activity. Enzymatic studies using T. rangeli extracts confirmed the absence of CS activity but confirmed the expression of an active CβS. Moreover, CβS biochemical assays revealed that the T. rangeli CβS enzyme also has serine sulfhydrylase activity.
These findings demonstrate that the RTS pathway is active in T. rangeli, suggesting that this may be the only pathway for cysteine biosynthesis in this parasite. In this sense, the RTS pathway appears to have an important functional role during the insect stage of the life cycle of this protozoan parasite.
PMCID: PMC4005819  PMID: 24761813
Cysteine biosynthesis; Cystathionine β-synthase; Cysteine synthase; T. rangeli; Thiol metabolism; Antioxidant defence
17.  The deoxyribonucleoside phosphotransferase of Trichomonas vaginalis. A potential target for anti-trichomonial chemotherapy 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1984;160(4):987-1000.
Trichomonas vaginalis, a human protozoan parasite known to lack the capability of synthesizing purine and pyrimidine nucleotides de novo, was found also incapable of converting its ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides. The only apparent means of providing deoxyribonucleotides for DNA synthesis relies on salvaging exogenous deoxyribonucleosides by a deoxyribonucleoside phosphotransferase activity in the T. vaginalis 10(5) g pelletable fraction. The activity, constituted by at least two isozymes I and II, can be solubilized by Triton X-100, has a pH optimum of 5.0-6.0, and recognizes only thymidine, deoxyadenosine, deoxyguanosine, and deoxycytidine as the phosphate acceptor. TMP, dAMP, dGMP, dCMP, dUMP, FdUMP, and p- nitrophenylphosphate can serve as phosphate donors. Enzyme I has been purified 10-fold by DEAE-Sepharose chromatography and Sephacryl 200 filtration, and is totally freed of the acid phosphatase of T. vaginalis. It has an estimated molecular weight of 200,000 and Km values of 2-3 mM for the four deoxyribonucleosides, which act on each other as competitive inhibitors. It also possesses phosphatase activity capable of hydrolyzing p-nitrophenylphosphate with a Michaelis constant of 0.74 mM. The rates of hydrolysis are enhanced by thymidine, which suggests that the latter may be the preferred phosphate acceptor, and Enzyme I may be, thus, more a transferase than a phosphatase. This enzyme could be a potential target for antitrichomonial chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2187479  PMID: 6090576
18.  Analysis of the proteinases of representative Trichomonas vaginalis isolates. 
Infection and Immunity  1990;58(1):157-162.
Isoelectric focusing and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) with acrylamide copolymerized with gelatin (substrate-SDS-PAGE) were combined to evaluate the proteinases of both long-term-grown and fresh isolates of Trichomonas vaginalis. This two-dimensional substrate-SDS-PAGE resolved as many as 23 distinct proteinase activities in several isolates, and proteinases had relative molecular masses between 23 and 110 kilodaltons (kDa). Isoelectric points (pI) of proteinases ranged from 5.7 to 7.0. Overall, the various representative proteinase profiles were similar among those of long-term-grown and fresh isolates, although heterogeneity existed among several cysteine proteinase activities. Pattern changes were detected in fresh isolates passaged over several weeks, showing the ability of proteinases to be differentially expressed and to undergo phase variation. The two-dimensional proteinase patterns were very reproducible for isolates analyzed over a certain period of time before expression of some proteinases varied. The heterogeneity and differential expression of certain proteinases were not coordinated with phenotypic variation of already characterized immunogens and adhesins. Data suggesting that a 43-kDa proteinase resided on the parasite surface were obtained on the basis of removal of activity following pronase or proteinase K treatment of live organisms. Finally, immunized experimental animals produced antibody to many T. vaginalis proteinases, which indicates the immunogenic nature of trichomonad proteinases.
PMCID: PMC258424  PMID: 2403530
19.  The endogenous production of hydrogen sulphide in intrauterine tissues 
Hydrogen sulphide is a gas signalling molecule which is produced endogenously from L-cysteine via the enzymes cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) and cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE). The possible role of hydrogen sulphide in reproduction has not yet been fully investigated. It has been previously demonstrated that hydrogen sulphide relaxes uterine smooth muscle in vitro. The aim of the present study was to investigate the endogenous production of hydrogen sulphide in rat and human intrauterine tissues in vitro.
The production of hydrogen sulphide in rat and human intrauterine tissues was measured in vitro using a standard technique. The expression of CBS and CSE was also investigated in rat and human intrauterine tissues via Western blotting. Furthermore, the effects of nitric oxide (NO) and low oxygen conditions on the production rates of hydrogen sulphide were investigated.
The order of hydrogen sulphide production rates (mean +/- SD, n = 4) for rat tissues were: liver (777 +/- 163 nM/min/g) > uterus (168 +/- 100 nM/min/g) > fetal membranes (22.3 +/- 15.0 nM/min/g) > placenta (11.1 +/- 4.7 nM/min/g), compared to human placenta (200 +/- 102 nM/min/g). NO significantly increased hydrogen sulphide production in rat fetal membranes (P < 0.05). Under low oxygen conditions the production of hydrogen sulphide was significantly elevated in human placenta, rat liver, uterus and fetal membranes (P < 0.05). Western blotting (n = 4) detected the expression of CBS and CSE in all rat intrauterine tissues, and in human placenta, myometrium, amnion and chorion.
Rat and human intrauterine tissues produce hydrogen sulphide in vitro possibly via CBS and CSE enzymes. NO increased the production of hydrogen sulphide in rat fetal membranes. The augmentation of hydrogen sulphide production in human intrauterine tissues in a low oxygen environment could have a role in pathophysiology of pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2642832  PMID: 19200371
20.  Modulation of Ion Transport Across Rat Distal Colon by Cysteine 
The aim of this study was to identify the actions of stimulation of endogenous production of H2S by cysteine, the substrate for the two H2S-producing enzymes, cystathionine-β-synthase and cystathionine-γ-lyase, on ion transport across rat distal colon. Changes in short-circuit current (Isc) induced by cysteine were measured in Ussing chambers. Free cysteine caused a concentration-dependent, transient fall in Isc, which was sensitive to amino-oxyacetate and β-cyano-L-alanine, i.e., inhibitors of H2S-producing enzymes. In contrast, Na cysteinate evoked a biphasic change in Isc, i.e., an initial fall followed by a secondary increase, which was also reduced by these enzyme inhibitors. All responses were dependent on the presence of Cl− and inhibited by bumetanide, suggesting that free cysteine induces an inhibition of transcellular Cl− secretion, whereas Na cysteinate – after a transient inhibitory phase – activates anion secretion. The assumed reason for this discrepancy is a fall in the cytosolic pH induced by free cysteine, but not by Na cysteinate, as observed in isolated colonic crypts loaded with the pH-sensitive dye, BCECF. Intracellular acidification is known to inhibit epithelial K+ channels. Indeed, after preinhibition of basolateral K+ channels with tetrapentylammonium or Ba2+, the negative Isc induced by free cysteine was reduced significantly. In consequence, stimulation of endogenous H2S production by Na cysteinate causes, after a short inhibitory response, a delayed activation of anion secretion, which is missing in the case of free cysteine, probably due to the cytosolic acidification. In contrast, diallyl trisulfide, which is intracellularly converted to H2S, only evoked a monophasic increase in Isc without the initial fall observed with Na cysteinate. Consequently, time course and amount of produced H2S seem to strongly influence the functional response of the colonic epithelium evoked by this gasotransmitter.
PMCID: PMC3291876  PMID: 22403551
Cl− secretion; cysteine; cytosolic pH; electrolyte transport; H2S; rat colon
21.  Drug Targets and Mechanisms of Resistance in the Anaerobic Protozoa 
Clinical Microbiology Reviews  2001;14(1):150-164.
The anaerobic protozoa Giardia duodenalis, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Entamoeba histolytica infect up to a billion people each year. G. duodenalis and E. histolytica are primarily pathogens of the intestinal tract, although E. histolytica can form abscesses and invade other organs, where it can be fatal if left untreated. T. vaginalis infection is a sexually transmitted infection causing vaginitis and acute inflammatory disease of the genital mucosa. T. vaginalis has also been reported in the urinary tract, fallopian tubes, and pelvis and can cause pneumonia, bronchitis, and oral lesions. Respiratory infections can be acquired perinatally. T. vaginalis infections have been associated with preterm delivery, low birth weight, and increased mortality as well as predisposing to human immunodeficiency virus infection, AIDS, and cervical cancer. All three organisms lack mitochondria and are susceptible to the nitroimidazole metronidazole because of similar low-redox-potential anaerobic metabolic pathways. Resistance to metronidazole and other drugs has been observed clinically and in the laboratory. Laboratory studies have identified the enzyme that activates metronidazole, pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase, to its nitroso form and distinct mechanisms of decreasing drug susceptibility that are induced in each organism. Although the nitroimidazoles have been the drug family of choice for treating the anaerobic protozoa, G. duodenalis is less susceptible to other antiparasitic drugs, such as furazolidone, albendazole, and quinacrine. Resistance has been demonstrated for each agent, and the mechanism of resistance has been investigated. Metronidazole resistance in T. vaginalis is well documented, and the principal mechanisms have been defined. Bypass metabolism, such as alternative oxidoreductases, have been discovered in both organisms. Aerobic versus anaerobic resistance in T. vaginalis is discussed. Mechanisms of metronidazole resistance in E. histolytica have recently been investigated using laboratory-induced resistant isolates. Instead of downregulation of the pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase and ferredoxin pathway as seen in G. duodenalis and T. vaginalis, E. histolytica induces oxidative stress mechanisms, including superoxide dismutase and peroxiredoxin. The review examines the value of investigating both clinical and laboratory-induced syngeneic drug-resistant isolates and dissection of the complementary data obtained. Comparison of resistance mechanisms in anaerobic bacteria and the parasitic protozoa is discussed as well as the value of studies of the epidemiology of resistance.
PMCID: PMC88967  PMID: 11148007
22.  Hydrogen sulphide-related thiol metabolism and nutrigenetics in relation to hypertension in an elderly population 
Genes & Nutrition  2012;8(2):221-229.
Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a gaseous signalling molecule that regulates blood flow and pressure. It is synthesised from cysteine via cystathionine β-synthase and cystathionine γ-lyase. We examined whether thiol precursors of H2S, transsulphuration pathway gene variants (CBS-844ins68 and CTH-G1364T) and key B-vitamin cofactors might be critical determinants of hypertension in an elderly Australian population. An elderly Australian retirement village population (n = 228; age 65–96 years, 91 males and 137 females) was assessed for the prevalence of two transsulphuration pathway–related variant genes associated with cysteine synthesis and hence H2S production. Thiols were determined by HPLC, genotypes by PCR and dietary intake by food frequency questionnaire. Homocysteine levels were statistically higher in the hypertensive phenotype (p = 0.0399), but there was no difference for cysteine or glutathione. Using nominal logistic regression, cysteine, CTH-G1364T genotype, dietary synthetic folate and vitamin B6 predicted clinical phenotype (determined as above/below 140/90 mm Hg) and then only in female subjects (p = 0.0239, 0.0178, 0.0249 and 0.0371, respectively). Least-squares regression supports cysteine being highly inversely predictive of diastolic blood pressure: p and r2 values <0.0001 and 0.082; 0.0409 and 0.046; and <0.0001 and 0.113 for all subjects, males and females, respectively. Additionally, CTH-G1364T genotype predicts diastolic blood pressure in males (p = 0.0217; r2 = 0.083), but contrasts with observations for females. Overall, analyses, including stepwise regression, suggest cysteine, dietary natural and synthetic folate, vitamins B6 and B12, and both genetic variants (CTH-C1364T and CBS-844ins68) are all aetiologically relevant in the regulation of blood pressure. Hydrogen sulphide is a vasorelaxant gasotransmitter with characteristics similar to nitric oxide. Cysteine and the G1364T and 844ins68 variants of the cystathionine γ-lyase and cystathionine β-synthase genes, respectively, are the biological determinants of H2S synthesis, and all three are shown here to influence the hypertensive phenotype. Additionally, B-vitamin cofactors for these three enzymes may also be important determinants of blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3575881  PMID: 22907821
Hydrogen sulphide; Cystathionine γ-lyase; Cysteine; Homocysteine; Hypertension; Cystathionine β-synthase; B-vitamins
23.  Cysteine Peptidases, Secreted by Trichomonas gallinae, Are Involved in the Cytopathogenic Effects on a Permanent Chicken Liver Cell Culture 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37417.
Trichomonas gallinae, the aetiological agent of avian trichomonosis, was shown to secrete soluble factors involved in cytopathogenic effect on a permanent chicken liver (LMH) cell culture. The present study focused on the characterization of these molecules. The addition of specific peptidase inhibitors to the cell-free filtrate partially inhibited the monolayer destruction, which implied the presence of peptidases in the filtrate and their involvement in the cytopathogenic effect. One-dimensional substrate (gelatin) SDS-PAGE confirmed the proteolytic character of the filtrate by demonstrating the proteolytic activity within the molecular weight range from 38 to 110 kDa. In addition, the proteolytic activity was specifically inhibited by addition of TLCK and E-64 cysteine peptidase inhibitors implying their cysteine peptidase nature. Furthermore, variations in the intensity and the number of proteolytic bands were observed between cell-free filtrates of low and high passages of the same T. gallinae clonal culture. Two-dimensional substrate gel electrophoresis of concentrated T. gallinae cell-free filtrate identified at least six proteolytic spots. The mass spectrometric analysis of spots from 2-D gels identified the presence of at least two different Clan CA, family C1, cathepsin L-like cysteine peptidases in the cell-free filtrate of T. gallinae. In parallel, a PCR approach using degenerated primers based on the conserved amino acid sequence region of cysteine peptidases from Trichomonas vaginalis identified the coding sequences for four different Clan CA, family C1, cathepsin L-like cysteine peptidases. Finally, this is the first report analyzing molecules secreted by T. gallinae and demonstrating the ubiquity of peptidases secreted by this protozoon.
PMCID: PMC3359344  PMID: 22649527
24.  Pathways of Assimilative Sulfur Metabolism in Pseudomonas putida 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(18):5833-5837.
Cysteine and methionine biosynthesis was studied in Pseudomonas putida S-313 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1. Both these organisms used direct sulfhydrylation of O-succinylhomoserine for the synthesis of methionine but also contained substantial levels of O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase (cysteine synthase) activity. The enzymes of the transsulfuration pathway (cystathionine γ-synthase and cystathionine β-lyase) were expressed at low levels in both pseudomonads but were strongly upregulated during growth with cysteine as the sole sulfur source. In P. aeruginosa, the reverse transsulfuration pathway between homocysteine and cysteine, with cystathionine as the intermediate, allows P. aeruginosa to grow rapidly with methionine as the sole sulfur source. P. putida S-313 also grew well with methionine as the sulfur source, but no cystathionine γ-lyase, the key enzyme of the reverse transsulfuration pathway, was found in this species. In the absence of the reverse transsulfuration pathway, P. putida desulfurized methionine by the conversion of methionine to methanethiol, catalyzed by methionine γ-lyase, which was upregulated under these conditions. A transposon mutant of P. putida that was defective in the alkanesulfonatase locus (ssuD) was unable to grow with either methanesulfonate or methionine as the sulfur source. We therefore propose that in P. putida methionine is converted to methanethiol and then oxidized to methanesulfonate. The sulfonate is then desulfonated by alkanesulfonatase to release sulfite for reassimilation into cysteine.
PMCID: PMC94106  PMID: 10482527
25.  Conversion of Methionine to Cysteine in Bacillus subtilis and Its Regulation▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;189(1):187-197.
Bacillus subtilis can use methionine as the sole sulfur source, indicating an efficient conversion of methionine to cysteine. To characterize this pathway, the enzymatic activities of CysK, YrhA and YrhB purified in Escherichia coli were tested. Both CysK and YrhA have an O-acetylserine-thiol-lyase activity, but YrhA was 75-fold less active than CysK. An atypical cystathionine β-synthase activity using O-acetylserine and homocysteine as substrates was observed for YrhA but not for CysK. The YrhB protein had both cystathionine lyase and homocysteine γ-lyase activities in vitro. Due to their activity, we propose that YrhA and YrhB should be renamed MccA and MccB for methionine-to-cysteine conversion. Mutants inactivated for cysK or yrhB grew similarly to the wild-type strain in the presence of methionine. In contrast, the growth of an ΔyrhA mutant or a luxS mutant, inactivated for the S-ribosyl-homocysteinase step of the S-adenosylmethionine recycling pathway, was strongly reduced with methionine, whereas a ΔyrhA ΔcysK or cysE mutant did not grow at all under the same conditions. The yrhB and yrhA genes form an operon together with yrrT, mtnN, and yrhC. The expression of the yrrT operon was repressed in the presence of sulfate or cysteine. Both purified CysK and CymR, the global repressor of cysteine metabolism, were required to observe the formation of a protein-DNA complex with the yrrT promoter region in gel-shift experiments. The addition of O-acetyl-serine prevented the formation of this protein-DNA complex.
PMCID: PMC1797209  PMID: 17056751

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